Friday, July 30, 2010

Sometimes it's the simple things

Work has been a bit intense and I haven't run since last Saturday. Normally things like this would get me a bit down and probably a bit cranky. But not today, yesterday we celebrated my wife's birthday by eating at El Tequila our favorite Mexican eatery down in Northfield with our daughters and my oldest's boyfriend, my wife opened presents from our girls as one of them had to work tonight (today is her official B'day), we had some cake and then later I figured out how to copy a ringtone to the latest phone I bought off of Ebay.

I like to buy used phones to avoid the contracts with Verizon and well, because it's cheaper too. The one thing I don't like are the canned ringtones on most phones and now I have solved it for my current phone. Now I can listen for my distinctive ring from Marshall Tucker. Just listen to the first 30 seconds and it should start to mellow you out, at least it does for me and guess what, no one else has a ring tone like this.

The other songs I have converted that I have on my phone are Marshall Tucker - Long Hard Ride, Martina McBride - Ride, Shania Twain - Up! (my final morning alarm song), Caedmon's Call - Lead of Love, Doobie Brothers - Long Train Runnin, Eagles - How Long, Bad Company - Bad Company. It's awfully nice to be able to convert any song I like to a ringtone (the power of the internet and Google will tell you how, even though Verizon tries to make it hard) and move them to my phone. Another nice benefit is that since my musical tastes are different than most folks, I can always hear my phone although sometimes I do like to just listen to it ring and I might miss a call.

For the moment, I will enjoy my simple victory over my phone and the joy of being with the family. Tomorrow I will run.

Happy Birthday Karyn......................

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Medical update, RRT & Turtle Trot 2010

Medical Update
Good news, went to the Chiropractor/Physical Trainer and he proclaimed me almost healed up. I am flexible again, ok, that might be an exaggeration but he was at least able to bend me in ways I couldn't bend before. I have a lot of work yet ahead to get the core fixed but I have exercises to do which I now know how to do correctly.

On the running front, I was pleased to get in an 18 mile run over the weekend. Wasn't pretty nor fast but the back didn't cause me pain. It stiffened a little bit but was manageable. So now I just need to get in a boat load of runs before Superior, only problem is that work has become a bit unmanageable but I am participating in a flexible work pilot which theoretically means I should be able to get runs in. Two days in, it just means I no longer have an office and need to cram 16 hours of work into 12 hours or so. So my hope is I can get things back in some level of alignment and figure out how to get the runs in. Tomorrow, I will see if I can start the process of managing all of my priorities.

I am going to host the Runners Round Table tomorrow. The subject is "Compete or Complete?", should be a fun topic. I like to think I do both even though I wouldn't qualify at any distance of being competitive. My competition is with myself and against the course with an eye on the cutoffs.

Turtle Trot 2010
Since I have been remiss to get out my Turtle Trot report, I figured I would add it to this post.

Yup, we went and did it again, Karyn and I took in Ben and Kirsten's hospitality and ran, swim and biked our way through the Turtle Trot Triathlon.

This year it lived up to it's 3rd week of July reputation, it was hot, actually it was an absolutely beautiful day, just a bit too hot for running. I love this event as they do it in the right order, not the right order for a triathlon but the right order for me, for the 5th year in a row, we started with a 5k run, followed by a 1/2 mile swim and then a 10 mile bike ride. I will probably never do a normal tri as this one has me spoiled. I love doing the run first, as I ran on this hot day, I kept thinking go hard, a nice cool Minnesota lake is ahead. I have to admit when I hit the water I was totally content to just kind of taking my time.

Back to the run, I pushed it a bit but since I have done Zero speed workouts, I really didn't have a clue. My goal was to run somewhat hard and if it felt easy to go faster each mile, the pace was fine but the heat didn't relent so I basically just held pace. Not a TT pr for a 5k but it ended up being my 3rd fastest TT run. The swim as I said earlier I just kind of swam, walked, floated my way through the 1/2 mile. I almost stayed in longer to enjoy the cool water but alas it was a race so I departed the water. My swim was my second fastest, not sure why as I had all of one training swim ahead of the race.

As to the bike, I just kind of got out of the water and told myself, let's get it done. I kind of thought that maybe I would come back to the lake for a little longer soak. I came in with no bike rides, so I was trained well. I actually ended up with my second fastest bike time of the 5 years. So much for training, oh yeah, I have never trained in the past either.

Karyn had a PR kind of day, I know she PR'd in her run which helped her get an overall PR, she may have PR'd in the other events too but I can't remember, yes I could ask but I have been sitting on this post for a week already, anyway, regardless of the event PR's she had a great effort. I should add a note here that I did catch some grief as I was the only husband who chose not to run, swim and bike with their wife. What can I say, oops.

Another great event as always, Ben and Kirsten make us feel welcome every year and do a great job keeping this event focused on participating, finishing and competing against yourself and if you chose not too, that is fine as the event is all about enjoying each others company.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Where does the time go?

Some days I get things done when I should and some days I don't. This post is about the posts I have yet to get out and I have more than a few to do. So in order to feel less guilty here are my short versions.
  1. Book Review on Running Dark by Jamie Freveletti another Emma adventure, very enjoyable.
  2. Turtle Trot Triathlon 2010 race report - 5th year in a row, finished, Karyn PR'd.
  3. Runners Round Table - tomorrow July 20th - Albert, Lesley and I are chatting with Dick Beardsley about his running camp.
  4. Summer doldrums - Injury update, motivation, shoes, etc.........
  5. Summer/Fall race decisions - Superior 50 or Moose Mt. Marathon? Surf the Murph 50M or 50k?
Now I need to get back to work on the long reports but first I think I will go for a run.

Update - scratch that last thought, I think I will watch the Twins instead.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bad day or poor fueling?

I decided to run in Lebanon Hills on my way home from work today and I had possibly my worse run of the year. Zero energy, legs felt dead, nothing in the tank. Although it could have been the heat and humidity, I think I can point to a few other factors that may have set me up for this day.

Let's start with dinner last night, we went to the Ole Piper Inn to celebrate my daughter's new job (congrats to her for officially entering the working world :-) and they had a 2 for 1 pizza special . So my wife and I ordered a black and green olive and 1/2 cheese pizza and my daughter and her boyfriend went for a pepperoni and sausage one. Then you add in a couple of Newcastle's (Smooth, easy Northern English style ale) and I was quite content. Two of my vices when it comes to food, pizza and beer. I love any pizza except for ones with fish and/or pineapples and pretty much any beer but I do favor the ales and stouts the most. About the only other food vice I have is nuts, pretty much any type which means I also love peanut butter as it is derived from nuts, right?. Since I am older and sometimes wiser, I do try to limit the intake of all of these items to special occasions such as celebrating the completion of an event, vacations, family get togethers, participating in an event, hey maybe this is why I weigh what I do? No when I think about it, the weight is probably just related to not running enough.

Back to the food issue. So after the evening celebration, I thought about what I wanted for breakfast this morning and I decided on pop tarts, another vice when I think about it. We normally don't buy these but my daughter had picked them up for her breakfast or to take to work as a quick snack and of course I eat them. About a couple hours later I could feel the blood sugar crash from these and solved that with another cup of coffee. Of course that didn't work so I ate some grapes which seemed to end the crash.

For lunch, I had leftover pizza (pepperoni and sausage), cold pizza that is, nothing better in the world than cold pizza. I added in some baked potato chips (another food from my daughter's shopping) and I was set up for the afternoon run. So as I drove to Lebanon, I drank a 1/2 liter of water and ate an apple that should fix it right? Well, based on the run today, I guess not. So for dinner tonight what else but peanut butter and jelly. So I think I am set for a better run tomorrow.

As to today, lesson learned, what I eat might matter, then again maybe it was just a bad day :-).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Injury update?

I figured I would give an update on my back, I went to the Doctor a second time last Wednesday, the first time he diagnosed me, he worked on stretching me out, did adjustments and gave me a few pages of exercises focused on my core. The second time he basically said I was a wimp.

Ok maybe not directly but here is how I remember it, I went in, he asked how it was doing, I said ok, then I told him I dropped from Afton at 25k as it was bugging me too much. After I told him that he said the back issue I have is something I can choose to run through if I want to. He said it is a muscular strain (possibly from overuse along with) and/or weakness (not exercising my core properly along with) and/or tightness (stretching or should I say lack of stretching) issue with the multifidus muscle and it is this issue that causes me pain along with it causing other muscles to spasm when they try to pick up the slack, hence the shoulder blade pain and other back pains. The bottom line is I will not do any additional damage. Hence I took it as I wimped out.

He says my problem is with:

The multifidus (multifidus spinae : pl. multifidi ) muscle consists of a number of fleshy and tendinous fasciculi, which fill up the groove on either side of the spinous processes of the vertebrae, from the sacrum to the axis. The multifidus is a very thin muscle. (This definition and picture from wikipedia probably makes sense to Dr. Nic and Steve but didn't mean much to me)

What I need to do is lots of stretching and strengthening exercises and he said I needed to do all of the dozen or exercises he gave me every day (now that will take some work). The exercises range from crunches (on the ball), to hamstring stretches (multiple ones) to leg raises (multiples again), bridges, etc.... you probably get the picture. On Wednesday, he added in one more exercise, using the exercise ball, he had me lay on the ball, feet against the wall, bending up from the waste and he kept having me tilt my chin down. He said the tightness in my back was forcing my head up. I did feel the stretching and after just a few I was sweating. He also showed me the stretches I could have done at Afton, he thought they might have ended my spasms. I showed him some of the ones I did he said nope, wouldn't have helped me but wouldn't have done any harm either.

So time to get to work.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Afton 25k?

Two years in a row I turned the Afton 50k into the Afton 25k, meaning DNF two years in a row. Ouch. Both years I entered injured and oddly enough in both years, the injuries did not get better. I did enjoy myself but I am disappointed as I had hopes that my back was going to hold up and I could get through the day.

I started out a bit fast and purposely slowed down by walking after the first aid station. I told myself if I didn't real it in, I would be done sooner than I hoped and it wouldn't be the back that took me out. It was then Karen caught up to me. She commented on my fast start and I said yup too fast, having not run all week I came in feeling good. We ran together for the next 7 miles until I let her leave aid station 4 without me. I was talking with my wife and daughter and I knew my back was hurting and that I might be probably done. It had started hurting about 4 or 5 miles into the race and coming down the hill into that aid station it was hurting a whole lot.

My wife and I talked about what I was going to do, I said I was going to try and get it worked out and see what happens as I didn't want to drop 2 years in a row. I did my best to stretch it out along the flat section, I kept bending over which felt good, tried to stretch out the calves, hamstrings even tried some ibuprofen which I normally will not take during a run and it did not improve. After I got up the hill in Meatgrinder, I thought if I could just pick up the pace and get into the 2nd loop I would be able to endure the pain. So during the snowshoe section, I kept trying to run and every time I tried to pick it up, my push off was weak and my pace was continuing to get slower. There is nothing worse than to think you are moving and then to look at the Garmin and see otherwise. I was crashing big time and walking hurt but running hurt more especially on the downhills and the uphills weren't much fun either. So I knew I should drop at the 25k point. To give you an idea of my fall off, my time for the first 9 miles was 1 hour 57 minutes and for the last 6.5 miles it was 1 hour and 55 minutes. I will now focus on getting back to running health and race another day.

I called my wife and she came back out as we stayed to cheer on other runners. I very much enjoyed sticking around seeing Karen, Lisa, Jim, Rick, Les, Carl, Paul, Mark and many others finish on such a hot day.

Some highlights of the day were getting a "Run, Race, [Retire], Repeat" shirt from Helen and being a member of the "Team Steve" club, if only for a day, I will wear it with pride. Although maybe I should retire as well, naw, I like being out there too much. The new race loop, it allowed for some nicer views of the park. Soaking in the river after dropping. Talking to visitors about the race, some folks were pretty impressed with those of you that ran 50k in this park. The snake on the path coming into Aid Station 4 that had a few runners jumping. Hearing about Karen's Big Horn race. Driving up with my wife and daughter who got their morning run in after we took off. Walking up the path to the campground with my wife so she could experience that hill but like I told her it's much easier coming down it than going up it. I think she said we wouldn't be camping there anytime soon. Talking with Londell and many others through out the day.

My thanks to all of the great volunteers, race officials and to the folks at Afton State park for allowing us to enjoy their park for another year, what a great event. I can't wait until next year.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Afton, ready or not?

Sometimes I go into a race full of confidence, sometimes I don't, it's safe to say that my race tomorrow will be the latter. A few weeks back I felt great and I was ready to take on this course and get a PR. Over the last few weeks things have seemed to come unraveled.

First my back wouldn't stop hurting after FANS, I had it looked at and over the next few weeks it will be fine, by tomorrow, probably not. Then my foot started bugging me, no idea why, but it will probably bug me too. Then I was in San Jose for work this past week, which meant not eating normally and despite my good intentions, zero runs for the week.

When I got there on Tuesday I thought about running but I was beat from the plane ride and from going into work. When I have work weeks like this past one they wear me out as I end up talking all day. Although I can do this, being a complete introvert by the end of the day I am worn out. I was going to go on a run Wednesday morning, but nope I procrastinated by checking emails and taking care of things back in Minnesota and then I was out of time. No problem I could go Wednesday evening except we got back to the hotel later than I thought we would so we went to dinner and again I was worn out. No problem I thought, I would go Thursday morning except Wednesday's dinner didn't settle well and I didn't really want to have a gastronomic experience on a run. No problem I thought I could run around 2 in the afternoon, hopefully by then the system would be normal, except a meeting got moved so I couldn't get out for a run. That night we were going to go to Santa Cruz for dinner, the guy I was with said I could go ahead and run but that meant we might get back late and I had to leave for the airport at 5:00 AM. So I didn't run, I thought to myself besides my procrastination habits maybe this was my way of me just needing to take a break.

So tonight as I think about my race tomorrow, I am convinced Afton will be a blast.

Why you might ask? Especially after all my whining above and when you add that the weather is going to be miserably hot, the course is not easy that is a good question.

Here's why, I am capable of starting this race so I am going to, nothing more complicated than that. One day I may not be able to do that so I plan to enjoy any race I enter and if my day goes bad, what the heck, who cares. If I have to go into races so intense about my times or finishing them that I don't enjoy the variability they offer than frankly I think I should give them up. I enjoy these long distance events because of the unknown, that is my challenge. Besides I have gone into quite a few races feeling great and the day turned into a disaster.

All I can do is plan to give it my all and if my stomach, back or my body fails me so be it, but I think it will go ok. I will take my time, stay hydrated, soak up the sun and just think of how lucky I am to be able to experience such a wonderful personal challenge plus I get to take in the beauty of Afton State Park.


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