Monday, October 28, 2013

Surf the Murph 2013

I went into this years Surf the Murph feeling like it would be a good test of the progress I have made on getting my legs healthy. The biggest concern was had I gotten enough mileage in over the last few weeks to be able to get through a 50k. My weekly mileage never got to where I expected it to go, my long runs were only 13 to 17 miles heading into the race.

After Grandmas, I stepped back and made a decision to really work to get the legs healthy. I used stretching, ice, and tape to get the foot pain eliminated as I had figured out that the calf was the root cause. I worked on the calf but up until I went in to see Dr. Kevin I had not made much progress. The one trip to Lyn Lake seemed to help get the tightness reduced but I was still struggling with long runs as the calf would tighten up causing pain, it seemed like running longer than 10 miles especially on trails causing the tightness but the pain was gone. Then, about a month ago I made a strategy change. I had been doing my runs in shoes that ranged from 0 drop to 4 mil drop and it occurred to me if I am dealing with a calf issue, then maybe a greater heel drop would take the pressure off so I pulled out all of my older shoes. I have kept a couple pair of Inov-8's that didn't have a lot of miles and started to wear them. They worked and I was able to get my long runs over 13 miles, then 15, then 17, except for whatever reason Inov-8's irritate my right achilles. I wore my 330's for my last run in Murphy before the race and the achilles was hurting so much that I knew I shouldn't wear them. I had a decision to make gamble that I could endure the Achilles pain, go back to lower drop shoes and risk the calf causing pain or figure out another option.

I went into race morning with no idea of what I was going to do for shoes but I had added another option, I had pulled out of the donate pile a couple of old pairs of Montrails, Sabino Controls and RockRidges. I had retired them both a year earlier with just under 400 miles and decided to try them for one more run. As I waited for the race to start I went back and forth, run in my Inov-8's, no make that my Pure Grits, no my Lone Peaks but I finally opted for the Sabino's

I started out the 25k loop with Rick and we stayed together throughout the loop. It was great chatting with Rick and he showed me how to do longer races. He is able to walk a very quick pace,with all the leg issues I had gotten real slow at both my runs and walks. I was thinking that with his coaching I was in good shape for the day. I felt no lower leg pain during the first loop which had me almost giddy. As we ended the first loop we joked that maybe we should quit while we were ahead. The truth was, I felt good and had no intention of stopping. I wanted to get over my recent issue with dropping out of 50k's and I told myself that I had plenty of time to do it.

As we left the aid station at the turn around I had a gagging-coughing response which didn't feel good and caused a twinge in the back from the coughing. I thought, from feeling good to almost throwing up, what a quick turn of events but the coughing and gagging subsided. As we continued on I was struggling on the hills and to keep up with Rick. I was just out of gas and struggling to catch my breath, I was thinking what the heck is going on. I decided that maybe fueling was the issue and ate some clif shot bloks. I was thinking get to the aid station, grab some additional food and keep going, then as I was slugging my way down a hill, I slipped a bit and felt something else in my back. I also had been dealing with a left hamstring which had tightened up and an increasingly sore right knee. So between torquing the back, the hamstring and the knee, my pace was slowing and Rick was starting to disappear in front of me. My pace had fallen to something like a 20 to 22 min pace so I was thinking I might be in trouble.

I got to the aid station knowing I still had 13+ miles but told myself that I had all day and to stick with the plan. The aid station volunteers told me that Rick had told them to not let me stop. That caused a smile and got me thinking, refuel, regroup and get going. So I got some chicken soup and coffee and sat down and tried to stretch things out. After 5 minutes or so, I was feeling better and got up to begin trying to catch Rick knowing he was going to be hard to catch but I was going to give it a try. I quickly discovered that although I mentally felt better the back and other things were still hurting and my walking pace was even slower. I made it up the hills past the 3 mile point and had to face the reality that I couldn't run or walk the downhills or flats without pain. It was one of those, oh crap it hurts more going down the hill than up and isn't getting better. Since my goal was to not injure myself no matter what, I decided to turn right versus left and walk my way out. I kept thinking I had made the wrong choice and pulled the plug prematurely except I was moving at a 25 min/mile pace and hurting.

As I was walking in, I was feeling bad for not gutting it out and finding a way to finish and pretty much decided that I was done as an ultra runner, heck I was thinking I am done as a runner. I was thinking happy thoughts like I just can't do it anymore, I am a wimp, I am too old, too fat, too weak minded and many more negative thoughts. Then it occurred to me that I had no lower leg pain and my dark cloud lifted as this was the first time in 3 years that I had run a race without foot, ankle or calf pain. Yes my back was killing me but I had no lower leg pain, what a wonderful feeling. So maybe I am not done after all. I got to the finish area, told them I was dropping, talked to Jim W. and John T. for awhile and then headed home.

A couple of days later, the back is sore but starting to feel better and the other aches and pains are starting to dwindle, I am curious if the back and knee issue might be related to running in worn out shoes or maybe it was just the misstep combined with the training. One thing that did work is I didn't have Achilles pain.

The good news is we are entering the off season for running and I can work on getting everything working this winter and hit 2014 healthy, what a wonderful thought.

Friday, October 18, 2013

2014 Plan - Minnesota Marathons?

It hit me, the perfect running plan for next year. One that would help me rebuild both my marathon and ultra legs and provide me a goal that is a perfect maniac goal. What is it? Simple, run every marathon in Minnesota.

So here is the potential schedule and travel times:
DATE: NAME: CITY: Travel – Miles:
01/12/14 Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon   Northfield ~½ hr ~20 miles
04/26/14 Brainerd Jaycees Run for the Lakes Nisswa -3 hrs ~165 miles
05/10/14 Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon St. Joseph -1 ½ hrs ~90 miles
05/25/14 Med-City Marathon Rochester -1 hrs ~65 miles
06/01/14 Minneapolis Marathon Minneapolis ~½ hr ~20 miles
06/21/14 Grandmas Marathon Duluth ~2 ½ hrs ~175 miles
07/12/14 Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon Carlton ~2 ½ hrs ~150 miles
09/06/14 Moose Mountain Marathon Lutsen ~5 hrs ~265 miles
09/20/14 Walker/North Country Races Walker ~4 hrs ~210 miles
10/05/14 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Mpls/St.Paul ~½ hr ~20 miles
10/11/14 Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon Bemidji ~4 ½ hrs ~240 miles
10/19/14 Mankato Marathon Mankato ~1 ½ hrs ~80 miles

One problem with the schedule is the first marathon only has 44 participants and the entry is closed. I have emailed the race director to see if he has an opening but thinking realistically and maybe a little legalistically, it is an indoor marathon. So maybe I should amend my goal to run all of the outdoor Minnesota marathons.

It would only be 11 marathons and if I add in Surf the Murph 50k or 50 miler in late October, well it would make a nice round number of events and a decent year of running. And with the exception of Twin Cities and Bemidji being 6 days apart none of the rest are even a concern as there is plenty of time to recover between events. The good news is that with the exception of the two trail events, I wouldn't have to worry about long runs, I could just go event to event.

The other thing I really like about this concept is that I would have from Surf the Murph until the end of April to get totally healthy and prepared (assuming, Zoom Yah Yah is a no). Granted I have squandered this time in the past but I think this is the type of focus I could use. The only negative is it would mean no additional states would get done nor would it let me run a longer ultra but it might get me healthy and I do think it would be cool to say I have run every outdoor marathon in Minnesota and to do it the same year only makes sense. Plus if I commit to doing it soon, then I can save a bit of money on entry fees.

So now it's time to clear the schedule with the family to see if they are ok with the plan as 6 of the events would require us (or I guess technically me but I know my wife would like to do some of these too) to drive more than a few hours meaning weekends either camping or in a hotel. Or I could think about running all of the Minnesota trail events, many of which I have yet to do, I wonder what that would look like? Or maybe I should focus again on clicking off marathons in other states. It is a lot of fun to plan those out of state events but it does get expensive depending on the states. So time to get the family view on the potential plans, the good news is that whichever way it goes, all the ideas sound like fun. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Twin Cities Marathon

This first weekend in October, I was supposed to run a marathon, no not Twin Cities but the Porcupine Mountain Trail marathon and then the plan was to volunteer at TCM. I decided against Porcupine even though the money was paid, as between the drive to Michigan, my training, my work, it just wasn't meant to be.

But I did make the TCM, I was a course marshal at the Franklin street bridge and really enjoyed myself. I was truly inspired by all of the runners in both races from those that led the race and those that kept going even after the cutoff vehicle had gone by.

It was fun watching the energy of the 10 milers, I was amazed at the density of runners which meant that I was able to only find a few runners that I knew were running but I did see a few runners that I didn't know were running. Nicely done, Bob, Todd, Kelly, Edie and Tracy to name a few (sorry to any that I missed). I have to admit I was surprised at how many of them that there were. Granted we were at mile 3 for them, another volunteer said that they did wave starts which probably explained that there seemed to be denser bursts of runners but they were packed in for quite a while. A fun event for both runners, volunteers and fans.

Anyway, back to the marathon, I kept thinking to myself as they all went by, how do they do it, I can never do what they were doing. Then I remembered oh yeah I have done a few marathons but I thought to myself that I had never looked as good as these runners. So as I thought about it more and decided that the last few injury years have taken their toll and my confidence as a runner. I then started getting excited to run this event again as I remembered the energy you get from the race especially as you cross the Franklin bridge and head over into St. Paul.

A funny note about St. Paul, I always thought that once I crossed the Franklin bridge I was in St. Paul, so as runners came across the bridge one of things I said was "welcome to St. Paul, you are looking great, the best miles of the race are ahead". Of course when another volunteer pointed out the sign that said St. Paul 2 miles, I had to say oops. So instead I started saying, "St. Paul is ahead and enjoy the greatest 7 miles of your life".

I did see a few marathoners I knew and I know I missed a few too. It was great seeing Les and he looked really good, turned out he finished in 5 hours, not bad for a 69 year old. I hope to be running like Les when I am 69. Heck I would like to be running like Les now. I saw a runner from our running club at church, she was running her first marathon and looked great, she was really excited when she saw me on the bridge and gave me a big hug. I was just happy to see her smiling so I knew she was doing just fine, she finished around 5 hours and 40 minutes. Nicely done Mindy, now she is thinking Fargo, Med City and Grandmas, a maniac in training. I did see Joe from the Marathon Show but didn't pick him up in time to chat. You can find his podcast in Itunes, or just search for the Marathon Show, the twin cities show is a little over an hour long. Check out his website, The Marathon Show or enjoy his video highlights of TCM below. And of course he is on facebook too at The Marathon Show.

All in all, volunteering was a great reminder for me of how much fun Twin Cities is, what a fabulous and fun event, I just may have to do it next year as it would be a perfect year for my 10th TCM, on the 20th anniversary of my first TCM.


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