Saturday, May 31, 2008

Long run tomorrow at Afton?

The Plan
Well, I need to get a final long run in before Marathon 2 Marathon so I should run on roads but instead I think I will head to Afton.

If all goes as planned I will head up there around 7 and try to run the 25k course plus 5-10 more. I am signed up for my 2nd 50k there so getting a feel for the course would be a good idea. After Marathon 2 Marathon, Afton is just three weeks later so the marathon may be the final long run for Afton. So I figure I may as well flop things around and have a go at it. I don't have a time goal for the 50k so this should give me a feel of what I might be able to do.

The Reality
I don't plan on running too hard as I am kind of nursing some tender knees and would prefer not to hammer them. Nothing serious, just patella tendinitis, I have those straps and they make it manageable. It's kind of interesting, the right knee pretty much aches all of the time but it only occasionally has moderate to intense pain, usually it's just moderate without the strap and just aches with it. The left one doesn't bother me normally but after a few miles, I tend to get some moderate to intense pain. Usually, I try to work my way through it but I found out that if I move the strap from leg to leg based on which one hurts the most, it made it easier to manage. So in Fargo, I went ahead and picked up another one but I was kind of hoping the left one would heal up and just go away so that I wouldn't need it. It didn't so I ended up putting it on during the race. I am at times too vain, I think they look goofy so I didn't want to wear them. The problem is I am now ok with the looks of one, but the second one still looks goofy.

I ran today in Lebanon Hills and it was almost hot, it's been amazing spring, I think this was one of the first days in the 70's. If it turns hot at Marathon 2 Marathon or Afton, I will be in trouble.

The Fuel
I have been using Clif Shot Electrolyte (Crisp Apple) for my long runs and I haven't had stomach issues yet, the real test will happen probably later this summer. Clif shot advertises that it's "Salty and Tart taste counteract sweetness", I kind of agree as I never seem to have any trouble drinking it. It tastes just good enough to enjoy but not too good so I don't drink too much. The one thing that I do that is a little different is that I only drink electrolyte, no water. I read somewhere that it helps to keep the constant level of electrolytes than alternating with water and going up and down. I don't know if that is true or not but it does make it easier as it's all I need to carry. If you want to try it it can be hard to find, TC Running has it but only Lemonade and the Runners Gate in Lakeville usually has it, otherwise check REI or get it online.

I also carry Sport Beans (Fruit Punch) if I feel the low sugar come in and between the two, they seem to be working. I also picked up some Endurolyte pills (from Hammer) as I have used the Succeed tablets in the past and they seemed to help. Why did I switch, well laziness of sorts. I didn't get around to ordering the Succeed tablets on line and since I wanted them for the weekend, I swung by the Start Line at lunch last week and picked them up. In the past they used to carry Succeed but they switched to the Endurolyte's a few years back, the person I talked to thought they were better because of the extra ingredients, I think it may have been that they sell all of the other Hammer products. If you don't know what either are, they are buffered salt pills and definitely help keep my system working when I run longer than 4 hours. If I do a longer race than a 50k, I may need to figure out fueling differently but for the time being I will go with what is working.

When I get done, I will enjoy some pretzels and/or peanuts as the salt always seems to hit the spot.

The Outcome
Hopefully good.................

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A good run, finally and a ramble about Lebanon Hills

Today was the first time in many weeks that I actually felt like a runner.

I only coughed when I swallowed some bugs. Man I hate that, Lebanon Hills is inundated with those little things that swarm together. I only quantify bugs by swallowing or biting so forgive my ignorance.

If anyone runs in Lebanon they will know what I am about to talk about so you all can skip this section but if you don't know it here is a brief overview, the park has three distinct sections, eastern, middle and western sections. The three sections are separated by roads (Pilot Knob - east/middle and Johnny Cake - middle/west - you can get a quick view of the sections with my converted pdf below but go to the link above for all of the info on the park and the actual pdf). The eastern and middle sections are connected from the trail as there is an underpass over Pilot Knob. You can access the eastern section through four parking lots, the western section through one parking lot, the middle section from the eastern section Jensen lake parking lot or the campgrounds. The only way to get from the middle to the western section is to pop out of the middle section in one of two areas and then you have a 1/2 mile or so on pavement to get to the western section.

The eastern section has the most miles of trails and probably ends up with some of greater numbers of people, I usually can get in 10 or 15 miles without getting too bored. The eastern part of the park can become almost un-runnable with deer flies later in the summer, when that happens I switch to the middle - only a few miles of trails and most are horse trails and the western section. Note on the map above the middle section is included with the western section and there aren't too many trails. The western section only has about a 2.5-3 mile loop (you can split the loop in the middle and do figure 8's) unless you want to share trails with mountain bikers which I would highly advise against. The bikers stay off the hiking trails, we should stay off theirs. Ok, I do go on the horse trails but there aren't as many of them and I can hear them coming and they mostly just smile at me and say hello so I don't think they mind. I have been told by horse folks to talk so their horses know what I am and don't get startled. I normally will stop running and walk by carefully. So please respect them as well. The reason I like the western section is the hills are steeper than the eastern and I have never had issues with deer flies. So nothing to torment me and hills to charge up and down, the only negative is that I can normally only do between 5-10 miles without getting too bored (My guess is that I better avoid FANS - 12-24 hours of Nokomis - not sure if I can deal with that) .

I think the longest run I have done in the park is probably about 25 miles, I tried to hit every trail in the Park (except the mountain bike trails) and I still missed a few, so you can spend the day there without too much repetition although will you need to do a bit of meandering back and forth.

So if you have never run in Lebanon, you should give it a try. It is a wonderful oasis of trails in suburbia that is getting heavier use but is still a great place to run. More challenging then the river bottoms, closer for me then Afton, more trails than Murphy, Hyland or just about anywhere else in the metro area that I know of.

Back to today's run, I am not sure if I actually ran any faster but I felt good almost strong. I still have a long way to go to get back any speed but more runs like today will help.

Who knows maybe soon, I will actually look and feel like a runner instead of an old slow man hobbling his way along, happy trails...............

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why do I run?

I remember a few months back when Steve Runner talked about why people run which got me thinking why do I run? I have continued to think about it but have never really nailed the reason why, so this is my attempt to work it out.

What got me going on this topic?, well I was talking with a guy at work about him starting to run again. He had done two marathons and talked about the time commitment being his impediment, I agreed with him that it can be time consuming but it was dependent on your approach. I related my story of when I ran my second marathon injured it caused me to back off and forget about my race time I was able to really enjoy the day, my fellow runners, the course, the volunteers all aspects of the marathon event. That day I thought more about my family, my parents who had died many years earlier, my faith, my profession, living in Minnesota, my life, the beauty of Lake Superior and many other random thoughts, I had a blast. After the race, I thought about my finishing time which didn't thrill me but I quickly discovered that no one else cared about my time.

Ever since that day I started to modify my approach, granted it took multiple failures to reinforce the approach but basically what I do is assess my training and the course, the weather, and everything else that makes up your race day preparation and then I set my three time goals - possible, practical, tolerable. I usually shoot for the practical time during the first 10 miles, reassess and then I adjust to either my possible and pick it up or go into disaster management and work on the tolerable goal. As an example of this, last weekend in Fargo, I ended up just backing off to finishing which was my tolerable goal.

I am not fast, nor do I worry about being fast but I am competitive and I do want to improve. I am not a former track/cross country person doing something that comes naturally. I always hated running as kid and young adult. In one of my first blogs I wrote about when I first started and why I ran that day but today some 17 years later why am I still doing it? I am sure I could be faster if I would be more committed to my possible time goals but I am also sure I would have had to sacrifice time with my family, my body to injury or just burnout from intensity of PR mania to achieve this goal.

What does this have to do with why I run, well actually everything, if I hadn't backed away from my early obsession with time goals and PR's my love of running would not have developed. Actually without discovering trail running, I am not sure that even the motivation of an upcoming marathon would have kept me going. I had gotten a bit burned out after the second knee surgery and having done Grandma's and Twin Cities so many times that I just wasn't excited about them.

Why trails? For me they allow me to mentally lose myself and yet discover myself. It is when I am away from the distractions of the roads that I am able to find this zone, it is not a runners high exactly but a runners discovery zone. The time floats by, the pace isn't always pushed but sometimes it is. I have seen coyotes, turkeys, owls, hawks, bald eagles, loons, herons, geese, ducks, bluebirds, many more birds, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, beavers, muskrats, possums, deer, a few too many snakes and thankfully no bears, cougars or wolves. I hate when I almost step on snakes, the only consolation is we don't have too many in Minnesota just enough to catch your attention.

Some people think I run because of my parents dying in their 50's, so maybe I run for my health. I am sure I run to stay in shape and to control my weight but there are many other things I could do for that which I don't do so I don't think that is it. I think I run marathons because I love the challenge and the lack of predictability but do I run so I can do marathons or I do marathons because I run? Maybe I run because I think it keeps me young, it keeps me motivated, removes stress, because non runners can't understand why I run (so it allows me to be different), maybe it's all of the above or maybe I don't really know why I run.

I think that the bottom line is that I run because I can and I enjoy it when I do and I always feel better afterwards, nothing more complex than that...........

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Marathon 2 Marathon is a go............

As I have said in my last few blogs, if your training goes to hell and you want to get yourself motivated quickly, simply sign-up for another event. That might have been my plan but instead Karyn checked out Marathon 2 Marathon and said let's do it, I will run their 1/2 marathon and you can do the marathon, with that kind of support, what else could I say but Iowa here we come.

I ran Sunday and outside of the blisters (see picture below) which I hoped by running would pop (which one did) it didn't hurt too bad. So what do other runners do with blisters like this, pop them or allow nature to take it's course? What's funny about the blisters is that I talked to someone at work about how I had never had a blister, guess I need to make sure that I only keep those happy thoughts coming in future discussions on running, like I have never had a sub-4 instead :-)

So the plan will be to add some speedwork, and a couple of decent long runs and above all else get the lungs healthy. I would probably be wise to even train at least a little on pavement, since I will be running on pavement yet again. No goals for Marathon 2 Marathon outside of no coughing and gagging.

So if all holds up for the summer, I will be sitting at 8 states completed heading into the fall. Do I try to figure out how to get two more states in? If I do, I can join the 50 states group or do I do the 50 miler and wait until next year or I guess I could try to do both. I think I will let that take care of itself and will simply focus on the summer running commitments and avoiding serious injuries.

So I think I will take a couple of days off to make sure no additional residuals creep in from Fargo and then start up with a consistent plan. I do hope the body holds up and the lungs clear out, oops, happy thoughts, I feel good, I train well, I will run fast, I am healthy, I am a runner.........

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fargo is complete...............

Well, sometimes you go into an event with high expectations, other times, you go in with high hopes and then you have Fargo.

I went into it still a bit weak with a poor taper because of being sick and you know what I proved yet again, if you start a marathon not entirely healthy you probably won't find a cure on the course. I had low energy almost from the start, we were also blessed with a warm day and high winds, ok high winds to me, to someone from Fargo they described them as a little bit of a headwind. All on your perspective, I guess.

Karyn and I drove over to Fargo on Friday. She was running the 1/2 and I would be running the full. We picked up our packets and took in the expo at the Fargo dome. I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the people at the expo. We headed over to eat the spaghetti dinner (also at the dome) and stayed around to hear their speakers. They were Sarah Reinertsen, the first women amputee to complete the Ironman in Hawaii and Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon Race Director. Both gave very interesting and inspirational speeches, it was nice to be able to sit back and relax and hear their stories.

Race day: Both of our races started together, so my plan was to run the first 2 miles with Karyn and then to get into my own pace. It was in the mid 50's at the start with a forecast high of 71 with winds increasing to 20-30+ mph as the day went on. I was worried about both the heat (yes, 71 might be a problem as I had yet to run more than a day or two over 60) and the wind. There were too many people in the start area as the 5k'ers were kind of in the way (they were to start 15 minutes later). After the gun went off it took us 3 to 4 minutes to get to the start and we proceeded onto the first of many concrete streets to follow. I was crabby as the race got going, too many people and too many concerns for how the day was going to go. Sorry about that Karyn.

Anyway, after I separated from Karyn, I quickly got into a reasonable pace and I thought to myself maybe things would turn out good. I had a nice conversation with a couple who were in the 50 states club around mile 8 and it turned out they were planning on running Haulin Aspen as well so I will need to look for them there. The next few miles passed ok although I was working too hard for the pace I was going. I thought it was the heat or maybe it was the sickness taking away my strength, either way I was thinking I might have issues ahead but the legs felt ok for the moment. I was struggling with a tight hamstring and had some minor knee pain but I thought they would be manageable.

Somewhere around mile 14 or 15, my day took a turn that would become the real problem. I had been coughing more and more as the miles went on and it was at this time that I had to stop completely from coughing and proceeded to gag a bit. I just couldn't seem to keep the cough in check and every time I tried to get on pace it would start up again. It seemed I couldn't get enough air into my lungs. I thought this must be what my girls experience with their exercise induced asthma, not fun. I struggled onward and each mile it seemed to get worse, cough, stop, gag. I had some significant knee pain around mile 17 so I went ahead and put on the other patella strap I had, that seemed to help the knee pain some. It was around mile 19 or so that I was thinking that I was getting dehydrated and was worried about my stomach cramping but I did the reality check, I realized I was fine but it was the coughing thing that was the problem.

I saw Karyn at mile 21 and got another water bottle, her day had gone ok but she said the wind the last few miles would be a problem. I told her of my problems and she said she had struggled breathing as well. Around mile 22, I had to make the decision to walk, I just couldn't breathe enough to run. I ended up talking to a runner from Florida and she said that she and her husband had the same kind of sickness and that I should have gone to the doctor and should still go in and get it checked. I chatted with her for 3 miles as she was walking it in with cramps and almost missed Karyn at mile 24. I was also acutely aware of a blister on the ball of my left foot (it had started around the halfway point). So at mile 25, I decided that my lungs were as good as they were going to get and my foot couldn't hurt worse so I would run it in. Karyn was right about the wind, it was strong. I was able to resist coughing although my lungs were hurting but I made it. It was kind of cool to finish in the dome. My finish time ended up being - 5:36:41. I was hoping for a sub 5 so not quite the day I had hoped for.

So it's the morning after and as I take in my damage, the body is tender but not too bad, the blister(s) are pretty cool, glad I have never had them before. One of them is about a silver dollar size right on the ball of the foot, the other one is about dime size and is right next to the bigger one.

One more thing, I would recommend Fargo to anyone, the course is flat and fast (if you get a bit less wind - see below). The race is well organized, the support is great and the dome makes it pretty easy logistically for the runners, all in all a first class event. Karyn and I talked about returning next year. It wouldn't help me with the 50 states thing but it was a fun day worth repeating.

In the past when I had days like this I would have psychoanalyzed my day to figure out what I should have done different. The reality was and still is that I am quite happy with the finish. My last three weeks of non quality training had me weakened and the coughing/breathing/gagging issue along with the wind and heat finished me off. The woman from Florida said it best sometimes you got it and sometimes you don't and if God tells you that you don't, you need to just relax, enjoy it and go onto your next event..............

Wind during the 2008 Fargo Marathon (8:00 AM start) from the NWS:
7:53 AM - NW 5 mph
8:53 AM - N 9 mph
9:53 AM - NW 20 G 28 mph
10:53 AM - NW 28 G 35 mph
11:53 AM - NW 30 G 38 mph
12:53 PM - NW 29 G 36 mph
1:53 PM - NW 35 G 41 mph

Monday, May 12, 2008

6 days and oh well, what's next?

Well, it is six days until Fargo and I am still not healthy. My throat has been sore for like 2 or 3 weeks and my runs have been lacking unless you count the record numbers of spits and nose clearings. Another advantage of running away from people.

I ran today and I am glad I only went 8 miles, 18 more would have been problematic. So my plan is to run a couple more times this week and see what happens at Fargo. Hopefully the throat pain will end and the lungs will clear out and Fargo will turn out well, if not, it's only 26 miles and I can work on my tan.

So with the mileage down, what do I think about but of course adding more races. I am still debating running the Marathon 2 Marathon in Iowa on June 14th. The main issue is the weekend before and after my daughter has soccer tournaments so I am concerned about family travel overload. So do I use this event as my last training run before Afton or just go and run trails for 5 or 6 hours. Good question, I think I will decide with my wife on the way home from Fargo.

Beyond this I am thinking that I should try a 50 and am targeting Glacial Trail. If I do this though, then I have a gap in September so the other option is the Superior Trail 50 but I think that sounds like a tougher course for my first 50. Either way, I think a 50 is something I will try this year as I am still intrigued to see how my body will hold up and if I can make the cutoff time. I think there is only way to find out on both issues, sign up and try.........

Saturday, May 3, 2008

2 weeks out from Fargo and sick.........

Ok, how many times have I neared a marathon and gotten sick? If I don't get sick before it seems like I always do after.

I got sick about a week after Chippewa, a bad cold (or allergies or whatever) which started getting better before I did a long run last weekend. I then proceeded to get sick again. Now I am just sick of being sick. I wanted to run long again this weekend but it ain't going to happen.

Do I panic and sneak in one more long run or do I just trust in my training for Fargo?

Which leads me to review my top 15 marathon mistakes.

1. Going out too fast (too many times to count)
2. Charging up hills (ditto)
3. Coming in overtrained (left it on my last long run(s))
4. Coming in undertrained (too few long runs - no base)
5. Coming in injured (I have never yet healed during a marathon)
6. Eating something I have never tried before
7. Not drinking enough water (with gu's or without)
8. Drinking too much water
9. Running in new shoes
10. Running in worn out shoes
11. Running when sick
12. Not adjusting for the heat
13. Not adjusting for wind
14. Not adjusting for the running surface
15. Not adjusting for my current weight...........

Being sick this weekend, two weeks out from Fargo, I know I am ready to go, it's just a question of which mistakes (if any) I repeat............


Related Posts with Thumbnails