Thursday, November 29, 2007

Injuries, pain, patience - part II

Ok, maybe it was dumb to try and go back to back days on the knee over the weekend. I ran 7 Saturday and it seemed mostly ok. A little pain but not unmanageable. On Sunday, I decided to run and every step hurt, so I aborted about a 1/4 mile in.

Well, I decided to be proactive this time and called for a Doctor's appointment. Good news I was able to get in right away, even better news it's just patella tendinitis. So I can resume running, I just need to run on alternative days, ice, stretch and do all those other things I normally don't do. As long as I manage the pain, it won't be a big deal. Time to focus on the next marathon..........

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Grandma's 1994

This was to be my race to go sub 4. My second marathon, Grandmas again, it would be payback time. I had just missed out in my first marathon so I knew this would be the race.

My plan was to take my lessons learned -- start out slower, train harder, more speed work, watch my weight, race my race -- apply these lessons and race to my potential.

My race training started with the Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon in January. It was a bit slow (1:56:00 - projected Marathon time - 4:04:00) but hey it was January, cold, and I was not in 1/2 Marathon shape. So I decided to map out a series of speed races finishing with 3 long runs - 20, 22 and 24 miles with the last one 3 weeks before my marathon.

My next race was the St. Patricks day 8K, the day went well and I finished with a PR (ok so it was just my second 8K, it still was a PR). My time was a 35:55 (projected Marathon time - 3:32:00 - yes this is it). Next race Rochester 20k, my time slipped a bit but the day was tough, very windy and cold (projected Marathon time - 4:01:07 - full fledged cold the next day, maybe that was part of my problem, keep up the faith). Next race - Healthy Start 5k. My time was a 21:10 (projected Marathon time - 3:26:21 - oh yea, back on track). Next race - Get in Gear 10k. My time was a 44:38 (projected Marathon time - 3:29:28 - still on track).

Ok just three long runs to go, everything was aligning for the race of my life. Maybe I could go for a 3:30, no back off you don't want to be greedy, target a 3:45.

The first of the final 3 long runs, I ran with Scott and Michael around Nokomis and over to the river roads, no problem, I felt like we took our time and could have gone faster - 20 miles in 2:54:00 (projected Marathon time - 3:29:28 - still on track).

The second of the final 3 long runs, I went for a long run with Scott. He is faster than I am so I knew it would be a good work out. Everything was going well until around 11 miles in, something got real tight in my right calf. I had to stop. I tried to run on it and I was able to get through three more miles and then I had to stop. I tried to walk it hurt. Now what, ok don't panic, walk it in, ice it give it a day or two.

The third and final long run, I decided to go back to Nokomis again. I felt good mentally the calf had held during my shorter mid week runs and I had gotten in 11 with just a bit of tightness. I took off and said to myself let's do it, keep the pace slow, nothing stupid. The calf tightened around mile 9, I made it to 10, hobbled through 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 and was done. It hurt, I stopped and held back tears of disappointment as I walked it in.

Decision time - do I run or not? I want a sub 4, everything was so good what went wrong? I decided to bike all week. I would just go out and do a final mid level run, no more than 12 the weekend before and then make my decision. I felt ok at the start and by mile 9 it was tight by 10 I was done.

What to do, the money is paid, we have a good hotel this year. My daughter Kristin was born the fall before, she is our miracle daughter (I wanted to run this one for her) as our previous pregnancy ended in a still birth. I knew that all I had to think about was all the pain my wife endured during the pregnancy and I would make it through the tough miles. I was motivated. Katie said it was fun the year before. Karyn said it was up to me.

Ok, decision made, We would go, I would run as long as I could and somehow get to the finish line. In the back of my head I kept thinking maybe the calf will hold. Start slow - finish strong?

Marathon Morning - It was a beautiful day, I went as long as I could which was about 10 miles. I then went into a modified walk/run. I would walk, the calf would loosen, run, it would tighten, repeat......... As I went along, I felt great physically and mentally the leg just wasn't working right. I talked with runners, bantered with fans, talked to volunteers and spent a few extra moments with my family along the way. I remember stopping at one point and just staring at Lake Superior, what a gorgeous and yet frightening looking lake.

I had a blast, yes it was a disappointment to not to achieve a sub 4 but I learned that there was more to running than just running. I learned to enjoy the event and that my family and friends didn't care about my time only I did. Enjoy the journey, it's why I run, how about you?

Follow-up - It took a while but I eventually went to the Doctor for the calf. It turned out the calf injury was the result of a winter running mishap where I slipped on the ice and probably tore it a bit. Since I just ran through it, I ended with a lump at the junction of the calf and Achilles. After a few physical therapy sessions, the scar tissue got removed and I was back to normal. Moral for runners - when you are injured you might want to seek medical assistance.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanskgiving Run

Today I ran for the first time in a couple of weeks. It was a beautiful Minnesota morning, light snow, light wind around 20+ degrees. I ran in Lebanon Hills, the trail was slippery and rocks were a bit difficult to see but hey, in a few weeks we probably won't be able to run trails at all (snowshoe yes, run no). My knee is still bugging me so I kept it slow the knee is more tender than painful.

I listened to a workout from Carmichael Training available from Powerbar at no cost, here is the link:

I listened to their workout on "Running Intervals" and I think it will be a useful speed workout for me (no today I didn't try it as that would have been a bad idea). The second workout is on "Tempo Intervals", and I think it will help as well.

Happy Thanksgiving............

Friday, November 16, 2007

Grandma's 1993 - My first marathon

I thought I would reflect on my first marathon first as I still have fond memories of it.

The adventure began in the fall of 1992 when my buddies and I noticed that the Twin Cities marathon was taking place. We said we should do a marathon (I of course said yes and thought to myself there is no way I can run 26 miles, no way). My running buddy Scott said we should do Grandmas the next summer, I of course responded as any guy would and said sure. We then forgot about until one of us brought it up in late December. Neither of us backed off, which led us to figure out our own training program. It basically went like this, Scott would run 5 miles, I would think I couldn't go 5 and then would do 6. He would then do 7 and of course I would go 8. We did this all the way through our training.

Grandma's takes place in Duluth, Minnesota the third Saturday in June, it is a point to point course from Two Harbors to Duluth. They have a 1/2 and full marathon as well as a 5k. The 5k is the night before and the 1/2 marathoners run the 2nd half of the race. Hotels fill up early, so my pregnant wife, daughter and I ended up staying at the Days Inn in probably the smallest room at the hotel designed for 1 person.

Duluth is a gorgeous town, it's hilly and right on Lake Superior. The marathon packet pickup, spaghetti dinner and finish all take place in Canal Park. It's basically a strip of land that is between Lake Superior and Duluth Harbor (think two entrances - 10,000 runners).

The spaghetti dinner was good and the expo was cool. I was pumped and ready to run, I just worried would I get up in time. The race starts up in Two Harbors and they provide buses to the start line from various spots in Duluth. For this race I was running with two buddies, Scott and Michael who picked me up so I didn't have to worry about the buses. We arrived at the start line which is actually at a Ford Dealer, thousands of runners, hundreds of porta pots, music blaring, what a scene. We dropped off our bags and proceeded into the gate, I now understand how a cow feels. Our plan was to run 8 and 1/2 minute miles. It was a slight stretch for me as I had not run longer than 20 miles and normally trained at a 9 minute pace. I was still thinking can I do the marathon, let alone having a clue about my pace.

We met a guy from Cleveland as we waited at the start line, his name was Ed and he said he had done multiple marathons and he was running the same pace as us. Little did I know what would lie ahead with Ed. The national anthem played, jets flew over, the train started off, the gun sounded and we were off.

At Mile 1, Ed sounded off 8:45 pace not bad but we would need to pick it up. Mile 2, Ed sounded off 8:30 pace, great we were on pace. At mile 2+, Ed sounded off 2 minutes, then 4, then 6, there's the balloon, 8:30 pace. Ed continued to talk and sound off the time, he was driving us all crazy. Around mile 3 you can see the finish line (the lift bridge) and wow does it look a long away. Lake Superior is gorgeous, what a view. Ed kept sounding off the time and then first Michael and then Scott broke off for a restroom break. Around mile 9, I too broke off and was free of Ed.

The race continued for me alone and then I saw Karyn (wife) and Katie (daughter) what a lift. Katie had made a sign with my name and encouragement, it was fun to see them and gave me a huge boost. I said I was doing great and having a blast. It's amazing how good you feel at this stage in a marathon although I was still thinking that I couldn't make it to the end. Ok, just remember, keep going, don't freak.

The miles floated by, around mile 18 you move off of Hwy 61 and onto the entrance to Duluth. I could tell that I was tiring but I was still on pace for an under 4 hour marathon. As I continued my body started feeling different and I could tell I was in trouble. I thought to myself is this the infamous wall, I decided it was more like another room. I tried to do math to figure out what I needed to do to maintain the pace for under 4. Problem was I couldn't do the math but I kept trying as I struggled forward and after finally working out the math I came to the realization that under 4 wasn't going to happen. I was almost completely overwhelmed with disappointment when it occurred to me that I was still running a marathon and I should darn well enjoy it besides I was going to have to make it as Karyn and Katie were waiting for me at the finish. In later marathons, I would joke that I had to finish as my ride was at the finish line.

I continued my struggle through downtown Duluth, each step hurt, I couldn't take in any more water or eat as the stomach was headed south. I then went through mile 25 around the convention center and by the boat, looped under canal park ave and then came around the corner where I could see the finish line. I wanted to sprint it in but just didn't have the energy. I kept moving and as I got closer and the crowd became louder I was able to muster up a final acceleration hobble to the finish. What a fantastic feeling. My first comment to one of my buddies was never again. Later that evening when I looked back on the day, I still couldn't believe it. My buddies started talking about another marathon and asked what about me and all I could say was why not........

Injuries, pain, patience........

Well, some good news and bad news. The good news is that the knee pain I have had for awhile hasn't gone away even after 2 weeks off. That means I can start running again. The bad news is that the knee pain hasn't gone away and it feels vaguely similar to when I had torn cartilage. So my new plan is to start running and see if it gets worse. ICE, stretch and add a pinch of cross training and just enjoy some Minnesota winter runs.

Next marathon is either Little Rock and/or Olathe.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The start of my running

I had previously thought that running was a brain deficient activity and had made fun of many of my co-workers who kept asking me to do the corporate running series. I said it would be a cold day before I would ever run a race let alone pay for one.

Well when I first started it was a cold day in Chicago (December of 1991). I was at my in-laws celebrating Christmas and I needed some time alone. All I could come up with was to go for a run. Anything else I knew I would have company. I found whatever workout clothes I had, laced up my basketball shoes and headed outside. I started to run but since it was icy and snow covered I went slow. I discovered that my lungs didn't burst. It was so tranquil running through the forest preserve. I saw some deer and best of all no people. A runner was born.

When we returned to Minnesota after the holidays, I decided I would still try to keep running. The first thing I discovered is that the bike paths were plowed, after 12 years in Minnesota I had never noticed that they plowed them, kind of cool. The running continued through the winter as I discovered the wonders of Minnesota winter running. It's dark when you go to work and when you come home so you learn to run in the dark and watch out for black ice. I think I only wiped out 1 or 2 times which I kept thinking probably wasn't good since you dress about 20-30 degrees warmer than the outside. I also figured out that when it goes below Zero it's wise to cover the face and that mittens work better than gloves. It was also fun to see the looks I got from folks in their cars when the temp was -10 or so.

When I finally confessed to my friends that I had become brain deficient a couple of them (Scott H. and Cliff L.) convinced me to do a 5k in the corporate running series. It went great they paced me the whole way and I ended up running even mile splits of 7 min/mile. It was fun so I decided to do it again, this time they weren't there to pace me and I discovered that I could have used them as my first mile was a 6:15 and needless to say I freaked and struggled the rest of the way.

I continued to run and to race and then we talked about a marathon.........

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Goal is 50 before 60

I am now 50 and hope to complete a marathon in every state, I think of it as, get through 50 before 60 with at least one 50k, 50 miler, 100k and 100 mile race along the way.

GOAL: 50 before 60

As of today, I have 4 states down, 27 marathons completed, 29 started, more on each of these later.

What is this blog for?

I decided to use this blog to help to motivate me to get my daily & weekly runs in. I am not in as good of shape as I would like which probably has something to do with carrying more weight than I should and intermittent training.

So my plan is to use the blog to capture my thoughts with regards to running. I have run 25+ marathons (+ means I need to add them up :-) and I will go back in time and revisit each one. My most recent marathon was a few weeks back - Kansas City. It was a very enjoyable day all in all. So my next post will revisit that marathon and then I will go backwards through each marathon until I have got something recorded for each one, why, good question. I think my motivation is simply that each marathon has provided a special day for me and as time goes on, I forget what I experienced and I want to capture those days as they are my motivation.


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