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 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 by Saturday.

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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Walker North Country Marathon

I held off posting about my decision to run the Walker North Country Marathon as I had pretty much decided that it wasn't going to happen. After I got the MRI results which showed that I had a torn plantar I shut it down and decided that until I could walk pain free that I wouldn't run.

So that turned into 8 days off when I noticed that my foot felt better and I tried a run, it worked, almost pain free. Some tenderness but no intense pain, what a wonderful feeling. With that run behind me I then proceeded to begin my mileage ramp-up ending in a 15 miler with some pain but manageable, definitely not much stamina for running.

I took Monday off to recover from the long run and to make sure that I hadn't done any damage to the foot. I was off Tuesday as my daughter and her fiance gave me a great early Birthday gift, tickets to the Twins game. I do love the view in Target field and we got to see a very good game where the Twins had the game in hand until the 9th inning when Perk blew the save. They then came back in the bottom of the 9th and won the game.  A nice quick game, very enjoyable.

I then ran Wednesday in Lebanon, 6 miles and then 3 more on Thursday. For both of those runs, I used the Galloway run-walk method and all seemed good.

So with a solid week of running over the previous 7 weeks, I decided I would go for Walker, my thinking was real simple and possibly not wise but it made sense to me. Do Walker as a training run for Twin Cities and one of three things could happen:
  1. Finish a marathon
  2. Get a long training run in of at least 18 to 20 miles
  3. Re-injure or discover that the foot needed more healing time
So we got a hotel room in Walker and I then set about deciding how I would approach Walker. I knew I was way under trained but with other marathons to follow I needed to test things out and at a minimum get in a long training run without re-injuring the foot or causing issues elsewhere.

Knowing that my pace had to be slow and not knowing how hard Walker was going to be for me, I had requested the early start which hopefully meant that time shouldn't be an issue. My concerns for Walker were the surfaces: streets, gravel roads, bike paths and trails. To be honest, I knew the grass trails would be a problem but I had concerns with all of the other surfaces too.

We arrived in Walker on Friday evening and went to the packet pickup at Walker High School, when they saw me approach, they said "10k runner", I said no "marathon" and they seemed surprise. One of the joys of being an older - larger runner is that people don't think of you as a runner. It was entertaining as they also couldn't find my number, turned out he was using my age versus number.

Karyn had decided to try and run the 10k which I thought was great as I knew I would be out there a long time and it would help her past the time, it would be her longest run since her knee surgery so I was hoping it would go ok. As we arrived at the High School we ran into Karen G., Karen and I chatted while Karyn got registered for the 10k. I let Karen know that I had signed up for the early start and it was time to head to the track for the early start. The weather looked almost perfect with a chance of rain later in the day.

They lined us up, There were about 12 who had asked for the early start and we were off. From the HS we went down a hill through downtown where we looped around a bit. My plan was to do the run-walk 60-60 but the early pace was faster than I wanted but I also wasn't sp sure about the course so I stayed with the group and then pulled back after almost a mile and started the run-walk. I had synced up with another runner during the first mile and we started to share our marathon journey's. He was a lawyer from Plymouth and had been part of the early days of Team Ortho Not so happy with them today. It helped the miles past as he just did the run-walk with me. The first 7 or so miles were pavement and gravel roads and were runnable with a few hills but the run-walk was working fine. Somewhere after 7 miles we hit the trail, more grass than dirt which torqued my legs a bit, It was there that I realized that I had forgotten the insert for my shoe to protect the foot. We slowed the pace through the grass and around mile 11 emerged to bike paths. Our pace was ok, went through the 1/2 marathon right at 3 hours (of course I wanted to be faster) which to me meant I was going to be able to do this. After another 4 miles of up and down we returned to the trails. My foot was pretty much throbbing but I was holding up ok. We emerged from the woods and I saw Karyn, she had done great in her 10k. From there it was back to the woods until we emerged again onto a gravel road. I thought I would be able to pick up the pace but between the foot, my conditioning, the surface I just couldn't get things going. So it was a bit more walking and slow running. At mile 24 or so we went back to paved bike path and I started to see my pace pick up but from there it was hold onto the end. I finished in 6 hrs and 27 minutes and I was thrilled. Karyn had arranged to have the announcer wish me a Happy Birthday. It caused a smile and since there weren't too many people around, I was ok with it.

A couple of things that I took away, TCM is now doable, my foot is probably about 80% so I need to watch where I run. The other thing was that at times my knee was not stable as it would wobble which caused pain, Pain that meant stop running immediately so I will plan to tape the knee for TCM as it happened both on trails and roads.

The good news is I am back to running and it was so enjoyable to be able to do Walker, I never thought I would be able to start let alone finish what a great way to spend a birthday. The course was interesting, I liked the mixture of surfaces and there were a few areas that were quite pretty. The volunteers were great, the course was well marked. It is an interesting course with lots of elevation change, take a look at the elevation chart, you should notice the downhill start and uphill finish, if  you do choose to run Walker, you will definitely notice the last hill.

A marathon worth doing but don't plan on a PR. Last here a couple of pictures that I took, I should have taken more.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Moose Mountain Decision time

I started this post yesterday as I was planning on running Moose Mountain no matter what. I decided to not post as I knew I was struggling with what my body is telling me and what my mind believes it can do.

Here are my last 5 weeks of training:

So even if my foot was healthy would running Moose Mountain be a good choice?

I had endured four days of running over the Labor day weekend and noticed a pattern that didn't bode well. Pain at the start was initially manageable but after 1 to 2 miles the pain increased to where I couldn't run. After each run it took ice and some carefully placed steps to make it seem like I had not caused damage.

The report is in, my Doctor called and said I have a partially torn plantar fascia and running is not advised. When I do resume running he recommends support to protect the fascia. He confirmed what I knew, the hard step while rounding third was a costly one. He said I should have had it looked at sooner and he would have had me in boot with no weight bearing for a week or two. He figures it is at least an 8 week recovery and didn't believe my delay had caused any additional damage, of course I had the MRI last Friday before I resumed running but I don't think I did any more harm. By my reckoning, I am in week 5 so I should have only 3 more weeks to go.

Tonight I was talking with my wife about whether I should run and I admitted to her that doing so wouldn't be a good choice. We discussed the injury and what I could have or should have done. Anyway, as we discussed it I told her that I had planned on taking the crutches with us this weekend as I knew after 26 miles I wouldn't be able to walk, she found that I was considering bringing crutches to be somewhat funny. I thought it was simply good planning.

Of course this means no Moose Mountain, no Walker and ramping my mileage for TCM might be a bit problematic but it still is possible.

I guess this year has taught me signing up early may not be the best choice at least for me.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Superior 50 closure

I am 7 days out from Moose Mountain marathon and I am still hoping to run the race even though I am still nursing an injury and my training is mostly non existent over the last 5 weeks. My last long run was at the end of July and it was 16 miles on roads. My average weekly manage since then is a little under 3 miles/week, yes that is it.

I really want to do this event, as it would complete the circle and bring closure to the Superior 50 that I failed to finish in 2010 when I missed the cutoff at the Cramer Road aid station (Moose Mountain starting line). In that race I had intended to continue despite an injury but the cutoff intervened. I am thinking it is poetic, to start Moose in pain and then to finish it off just seems right, it will be a long day but I should have time to do it.

I could use a little closure as I feel I have been pretty much a running failure since that day. Although I was struggling a little in 2010 with some minor issues, the Superior 50 was the true start of some more legitimate injuries (meaning not training related) and me not taking the time to recover properly which basically means compensation injuries. My injury was a weird one but it was legit and if there is one thing I have proven over the last 4 years is that trying to run long distance events injured is not a good plan. I know that I haven't been smart about allowing for recovery time and have been too driven to finish what I have signed up for. This whole year appears to be a reminder of my last four years of running while injured. The one consolation this year is my injuries were not caused by running and I am learning to not just push through them but obviously based on the fact that I still intend to run Moose I may need some additional lessons.

One thing that could keep me from doing this race is that I had a MRI yesterday to determine/confirm the foot injury and expect to hear from my Dr next week as to what it means. It is possible he will tell me that I shouldn't run and if he does I will probably listen. He had advised me to not run last weekend at the Urban Trail and I listened to him. Of course, I did regret not running even though I couldn't walk or run without pain.

So hopefully a week from today, it begins, my quest to close a loop I have left open for 4 years and it becomes my catalyst to finishing up the year with a few pain free races. I do know that I intend to enjoy every step of Moose and hopefully by next Saturday I will be pain free and just worrying about how do I run a marathon on 3 miles a week training :-).

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A step forward

Earlier this week, with the Urban trail a few days in front of me, I did what I have done before, head to the Doctor to get my issue diagnosed so I can get an all clear to run. The diagnosis is a bone bruise on the side of my foot (basically at the ankle), probable recover time of 4 to 6 weeks. He recommended I not run today.

I of course had other plans. On Tuesday I emailed the Urban Trail folks and asked if I could move down to the 1/2. They instantly accommodated me (thank you) so I then started to convince myself that a half was doable and wouldn't cause damage. So on Thursday I attempted a run in Lebanon, kept it to 3 miles and it went ok. I had some pain but it was better than the run I had done the weekend before so maybe the 1/2 was indeed doable. On Friday, the foot hurt more than I thought it had on Thursday. I told my wife that I was running on Friday and that was my plan.

When I got up this morning, I of course had trouble walking as has been the case since I injured the foot, the pain is similar to plantar fascia pain as it radiates in the heel when I walk but seems a little more intense than my previous bouts with plantar and taping does not work. Unlike plantar, it doesn't loosen up, instead I get my rhythm of walking on my forefoot going and it is manageable.

So why is this a step forward? Easy, I chose to not run my race today but instead will bike with the hope that I heal enough to enjoy Moose Mountain.

Next year I plan to run the Urban as I really like their course layout. Give this race a try next year, low key and it explores an interesting area of St. Paul.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

And so it goes, once again

Well, here I go again. I have the St. Paul Urban Trail Marathon in 10 days and I haven't run but once in the last 12 days as my foot is preventing me from running and hurting quite a bit while I walk. I did read that I could run with my probable injury (a bruised heel, fat pad contusion, whatever...........) as if it hurts when walking then running will do no more harm. I just have wimped out and I am not motivated enough to run through the pain.

Back to the Urban Trail, my money is paid, what do I have to lose Wow this seems familiar, and training for a marathon is overrated, right?

I am hoping that in a couple of days the foot will not hurt and I can run, if not then I will need to ponder things for a few more days. After the Urban Trail marathon I will have 2 weeks to train for Moose Mountain. The nice thing about Moose Mountain is that it has a 14 hr time limit and I would need to maintain about a 30 min/mile pace to make the cutoffs. If my foot gets healed and I can run some then even on that trail, I think I can do it.

So I will need to make the no go call over the weekend. The question is do I run it or not???????

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Running drama continues

What a year it has been, back last Christmas I decided to run all of the marathons of Mnnesota and it seemed like a really good and doable plan to get my running back on track. Well, I got off track before the first one with the meniscus tear and have proceeded into all the marathons thus far in pain. I have added an additional goal to be pain free for all of the remaining ones at least at the start line :-). Here is my summary on the first 6 of 12:
  1. Run for the Lakes - Meniscus tear 6 weeks ahead of it, had cortisone shot a few days ahead of it and used the Galloway method which got me to the finish
  2. Lake Wobegon - Tried the same process but had too much pain and was afraid of doing more damage so I dropped at 18 miles
  3. Med City - Dropped down to the 1/2 and hobbled through it with the hope that if it went well then proceed to Minneapolis
  4. Minneapolis - Had knee surgery 2 days ahead of it so my plan was a DNS, then they canceled the race for thunderstorms.
  5. Grandmas - Decided to try it with 2 short runs behind me, ended up making it but there was a bit more to the story no known damage done.
  6. Eugene Curnow - Chose to not start to give the knee some recovery as I was having too much pain running trails.
Which brings us to my next marathon the St. Paul Urban Trail which is now just 2 weeks away. My plan was to start this one without pain and enough training to make it enjoyable.
All was going ok (although not great) as I worked my mileage up. During this training, I have come to realize that my knee pain is gone but occasionally I step funny and it feels like it wobbles which causes some intense pain. I am pretty sure this is by product of not having any functional medial meniscus left. I have been working to strengthen the muscles around it but it's still a bit of a learning process. Trail running is the toughest so Moose Mountain might take a little longer than I would like.

Well like I said all was going well until last Thursday I ran in Lebanon and then played softball. The run in LH tweaked the knee and then at softball as I was rounding third I landed on my left foot and had immediate pain in my heal. I hobbled on and finished the games but between the knee wobble and the heel pain, it wasn't much fun. Unfortunately the next day I couldn't bear any weight on that leg at all. I debated going to get it looked at but figured it would just waste my time. I was able to walk kind of by putting on a shoe. Without the shoe, no way.

Today was my first attempt at a run and it worked sort of, I am still not pain free by any stretch but I was able to run in LH using a run-walk method. I did have a few wobbles so that still needs some work and I tried to not let the heel hit the ground which may be a problem on longer runs.

So tomorrow I will try to run longer (somewhere between 12 and 20 miles) (amended on 8/10, wasn't able to run, biked 20 miles instead) and then continue to get into a daily running habit over the next week and then hopefully I will be able to do the marathon. Ideally I will be pain free by then and have just enough training to finish under their 6 hour cut-off.

One other thing, since Minneapolis got canceled which means I couldn't complete my goal of running all of the Minnesota outdoor marathons, I have decided to not run Bemidji and instead will plan to do the 50k at Surf the Murph.

That way I can start feeling like an ultra runner again. Of course I will need to finish it to get that feeling which means I have to get over these injuries and not have any more. That sounds so simple but for me has been so hard.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

And so it goes

I was supposed to run the Eugene Curnow Marathon last weekend and after chatting with Lisa at mile 18 of Grandmas and an honest evaluation of the state of my knee, I chose to not attempt it.

I decided that a slower mileage ramp for the St. Paul Urban Trail marathon made a lot more sense. I got in an 11 mile run over the weekend and well I have some issues to resolve. I had knee tweaks throughout the run even though I did a run-walk, funny thing though my knee seemed to tweak more during the walking. Some would say then run the whole way, problem is I am not in good enough shape to do that. So my slower ramp over the next 6 weeks is a good plan. Later as I cleaned up our garage from our camping trip the knee kind of buckled which caused some intensity.

So I am doing my own version of physical therapy that I found on the web, "rehab for a meniscus tear", hopefully it will strengthen the surrounding muscles and that will help things out.

Here is the mileage ramp I intend (hope :-) to maintain for the Urban trail marathon:

Date Long Run
07/20/14 14
07/27/14 17
08/03/14 20
08/10/14 22
08/17/14 12
08/24/14 St. Paul Urban Trail Marathon

I have about a week cushion at most so I hope things hold together, the nice part is if I have to take another step back I still have 4 or 5 more marathons scheduled for this year. 

My goal is stay healthy and to improve in each event as reflected by ability to enjoy what I have on that day.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Knee follow-up

I had meant to post this when I saw it but forgot about it. It was from my follow-up with my Doctor for my knee I went to Twin City Orthopedics and they provide an online site so that you can see medical history, appointments, etc.....

Anyway here are the notes:

History of Present Illness

Michael returns 15 days out from a left knee arthroscopy (DOS: 5/29/14). He states that he is doing well. He denies any pain in the knee.
HPI: The patient reports no pain and no swelling. The patient also reports not using an assistive device for ambulation.
PE: The surgical incision site clean, dry and intact.

Michael is doing well at this time. He can get back into full activities. I will see him in four weeks if problems, otherwise as needed.

Ok, I wonder what he meant by "He denies any pain in the knee"? Denies, compared to before surgery it didn't hurt, oh well. You can see by his summary that he did give me the conditional go ahead to resume activities and yes we discussed running Grandmas, he just cautioned me to take it slow and to not run through pain.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Grandmas 2014

I ran (to be more accurate - walked, hobbled, ran, repeat sequence) and ultimately made it across the finish line.

Ok, there is a bit more to the story. It was 22 days and 12 hours after my knee surgery (the picture of my knee is 7 days after surgery) and I had all of 2 runs to provide me a running base. I ran 2 miles on Monday and it felt better than expected and then I did 7 miles around Harriet and Calhoun and it went ok. I thought I could have gone a few more miles but another 19 miles seemed like a whole lot more than I was capable of.

We again camped at Pattison State Park just south of Superior, camping in Pattison works out so well it is amazing. Granted we did have to deal with campground bathrooms and no cell phone service again but it works out better than a hotel and is a whole lot less expensive (granted if you ask our daughter she would disagree). We arrived on Thursday to a misty foggy day with temps in the low 50's. We got our camp setup and got ready for a nice cool and wet camping experience. The weather had us questioning why exactly did we come up on Thursday? Between the cold and the rain, I am not sure any of us slept that great.

Friday the weather was the same, cool, misty, foggy, a normal summer weekend in Duluth :-), since we got to Duluth on Thursday it allowed us to have a leisurely day on Friday which reminded us that's why we came up on Thursday. I should admit that on Friday I was pretty sure that I would not be running instead I was thinking that I would enjoy watching my daughter run the 1/2 and take in Grandmas as a spectator. I was having off and on pain as the knee had swelled a bit after the 7 miler. I told myself I would make my final decision the morning of Grandmas as maybe the knee would be pain free. So, we picked up our packets, ate lunch in Canal Park, took in the expo, listened to Marshall Ulrich, had some tea at Caribou (we all enjoyed having their free internet). After that we went over and ate spaghetti and returned to camp.

Our alarms went off at 3:30 and we got going fairly quickly and were off to the DECC as my daughter wanted to ride the bus to the start line. I dressed like I would run but I kept thinking that to do so would not be a smart decision. If I stepped wrong it hurt but if I stepped right it was fine so I just needed to step right :-). With that thought, I was debating maybe start and get in as many miles as I could but even that seemed like a bad idea. We got our daughter to her bus and I was about to tell my wife that I was not going to run when she said "you know you will regret it if you don't try", with that I said what the heck and grabbed everything I needed and went for a bus.

I got to the start line and started looking for two people I knew were running and that I should/could run with: Mindy and Londell. Londell was running his 30th Grandmas and Mindy was running her second marathon, her first Grandmas. I didn't see Londell but found Mindy, we discussed our race strategies (or lack there of) and decided to start together. Mindy had joined our running group at our church and then had decided to run Twin Cities last year. My wife had said she hadn't been training too much which she confirmed as we waited on the start.

My plan was to run using the Galloway method of 1 minute running/1 minute walking. Mindy wasn't sure about that method and decided to run her own race, so she was quickly out of site. It was about a mile into the race when my wife sent me a text and said our daughter looked good. About a 1/2 hr later I got a text or a call that she was in tears and in a lot of pain. Of course I then thought what am I doing out here, I should be there to help out. As I waited for the next update, I was thinking that maybe I could get someone to give me a ride to the finish area. I of course thought of her running through a stress fracture and other serious issues. My wife and I continued to text about her progress, she was able to finish and went right into the medical tent. When she emerged from the tent, she said that they had told her that she misaligned hip which had caused her pain. They were able to help relieve the pressure with manipulations/massage. Thankfully she was ok.

The run-walk method worked about like I hoped but as the miles started to increase I noticed that the camber of the highway was causing discomfort. It seemed like I needed to stay centered or on the right side. I can't remember what mile but I caught up to Mindy and she did the run-walk with me for a while. She too was having some hip pain. About then I saw Londell and his son Jordan, we talked for a while but since I was being anal about my run-walk I took off fairly quickly (great job Londell!!!). I knew staying consistent was my only chance and if I got off rhythm I might be in trouble. Mindy slowly fell behind as I continued with my run-walk method, my daughter called and said they were going to make it on the course around mile 16. I had asked them to grab me a dry shirt and my TCM brooks pullover as I was concerned it was going to turn colder especially if I slowed down as expected.

As I came up to them my wife commented on how much I was limping, I knew I was as we kept getting shooed to the left side of the road (emergency vehicles, buses and race official) which caused more and more discomfort so I knew I was compensating. I debated quitting as I really didn't want to damage the knee and I was pretty sure that I was getting near a breaking point. I decided to continue on but only made it a 100 yards before I turned around, I had more pain than I had expected and was thinking I had done more than enough. I was discussing it with my wife and daughter and told them that I thought I should quit, about then Mindy came up to us, we both discussed quitting and she decided to continue, my wife mentioned the traffic into Duluth and I decided to go ahead and join Mindy. I expected she would be doing a bit of walking and was thinking it would minimize the damage.

I saw Wayne and Lisa at mile 18, chatted for a few minutes, took back off to catch Mindy and we then continued on together. I had my sip of beer around mile 20, saw my wife and daughter just past the Edgewater where they mentioned that we had looked better earlier. I was having a blister issue in addition to the knee pain so it wasn't as easy as I thought it might be. The nice part as we got into downtown Duluth, the weather cleared up and we could see boats out in Lake Superior.

We made it to the finish in 6 hrs 11 minutes, a bit slower than I had hoped but it did get me my 14th Grandmas finish. So I guess I will need to run it in next year, how can I resist getting my 15th finish in 2015.

If you are curious about how the recovery has gone, well it's been a bit slower than I hoped, the knee is a little painful when I run so I am taking it easy. I will probably forego Eugene Curnow and focus on St. Paul with a nice easy 8 week ramp to get back into marathon shape. Turns out I also got a nice sunburn, considering the 15 minutes of sun that was a surprise. The funny part about that is, I like to wear my hat backwards which meant that I had a nice crescent moon burn (from the gap in the hat) which provided my family and co-workers a great deal of amusement.

So am I happy I went for it, absolutely.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Grandmas is a ?

I met with my Dr yesterday and I got a green light for walking and biking and a yellow light with regard to running. My stitches were removed and he checked out the knee, he was pleased with the amount of swelling left and figured in a few more weeks I would be able to resume all activities.

We discussed the surgery, he showed me the pictures of the tear and that I had minimal arthritis. I asked about how much meniscus I had left and he said not as much as he would like and not much functionality is left with what I do have although he then said my knee should be good for another 20 to 30 years. I of course asked about resuming running. He advised me that if I can walk pain free and then bike pain free, I could attempt to do a short run-walk and if it all went well then I could proceed with caution. He did advise against lateral moving sports and impact sports like basketball and stated that he preferred his patients to wait 4 weeks for running. I asked about Grandmas (I told him it would be about 3 1/2 weeks after surgery) and he said well, that might be more stress than he would recommend although he seemed more concerned with my muscles being weak from the inactivity or about a stress fracture. I took the conversation as it would be my choice as I was not given a definitive no but instead advised to not run if I have pain.

So the debate in my head is underway, should I do Grandmas?

I decided yesterday that I wouldn't push it but if I can meet my criteria then I might try. I am bit worried about the conditioning lost over the last couple of weeks but if I do it, it will be to complete it in the time limit and to do no harm. This means that the debate now begins, should I do it? Can I do it? What if I fail? Would doing this be sabotaging myself again? Or is this just me being me?

My status is that I am close to having full range of motion, walking is almost pain free and biking today was pain free, so in the next few days I will try a short walk-run-walk. If that goes well and by well I mean, I need to be able to do one minute of running then one minute of walking for 3 to 5 miles with no pain or I will not do Grandmas.

Repeat if you have pain you will not run Grandmas, if you have pain you will not run Grandmas, if you have pain you will not run Grandmas.................................................

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Med City - New plans

I went into Med City with expectations and hope. The hope was that it would go so well that I could continue on to Minneapolis and then Grandmas with no concerns. My expectations were that it would go well enough that I at least would have a decision to make.

I love the Med City marathon, it is exactly the type of event that I enjoy doing. First it has great volunteers, a nice course with enough variety to keep me entertained, a great race director and very easy logistics. All in all it is a great event.

For today's run, my day started at 3:30 am as I needed to leave by around 4:30 to 4:45 to get to Rochester in time to catch the bus. Around 4 am, I had a minor crisis arise as we lost power, kind of hard to get out the door when you are walking around with a flashlight. The worse part was I didn't get my second cup of coffee. I got out the door and made it Rochester just before 6, parked within a 100 feet of the bus and before I knew it, I was heading to Byron for the start. Picked up my packet with no issue other than they were out of shirts in my size. Since I had dropped from the marathon and missed the expo, I was ok with that.

I started the race at the back of the pack and ran with the 5 hr marathon pacer, not by choice but it just happened. The reason I say not by choice, it has been my experience that pacers are just a bit too encouraging for me. I was again running and walking and I expected that I would maintain the pace through at least the first 10 to 12 miles. By mile 6, I knew that I would hold my surgery appointment for Thursday. Similar to Lake Wobegon, I could not hold a consistent pace, the difference though was that it happened even sooner, I watched my mile times slow from 11 1/2 to 12 to 12 1/2 to 13 to 14 to 15 minute pace by the end. It was a bit warm but my issue was pain and push off, as the pain wore on, I seemed to lose the ability to maintain the running at a decent pace and the walking slowed as well.

Oh well, it is what it is. I do hope the surgery goes ok, I am more than a bit worried about the amount of meniscus I will have left, I think last time the surgeon removed about 1/2. The main concern is what he tells me for resuming running.

It may surprise a few folks but in the back of my mind I am still thinking of running Grandmas, it will be 23 days after surgery so there is a chance. Again, I will wait and see, other than Grandmas, I am definitely planning to resume with marathons at Eugene Curnow (44 days post surgery) or worse case St. Paul Urban (86 days post surgery).

Of course I will follow my Doctor's advice on when I can resume running, at least for the first week or two :-).

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Reset time

Well, the good news is that I got my MRI results, the bad news is it revealed a medial meniscus tear and hamstring bursitis along with some arthritis. I meet with the Doctor on Tuesday to figure out options.

I have gained some additional insight this week whether my decision to drop from Lake Wobegon was a reasonable one. Last Sunday, I ran the Race for the Cure 5k, both my wife and daughter questioned the wisdom but I got through it. Then I played a couple of softball games on Thursday which caused a lot of tweaks and pain so that probably wasn't wise either. Yesterday, I went for a short run and pulled the plug after a mile and a half. Today the knee felt slightly better so I went for it, I was hoping to get at least a 6 mile run in and maybe extend it to 9 miles. The run instead turned into a replay of LWTM, even though I started with a run-walk, it just was a struggle. I started with some knee pain, got more as I went along until the pain slowed the pace even more after only a couple of miles and I had to reset.  At least at LWTM, I made it 10 miles until the wheels started falling off. So I am now looking forward to my Dr's appointment, never thought I would say that.

The good news is that I believe one way or another, I will be able to run many of my marathons yet this year.

I am pondering a couple of race options for the remainder of the year:

Option 1:
Run or attempt to run:
  • Med City 1/2 marathon
Surgery if required (late May or early June, or ASAP) which means
  • Probably will skip Minneapolis marathon or might be able to attempt to run depending on Dr's advice
  • Skip Grandmas
  • Probably would need to skip Eugene Curnow
The run the rest of the races:
  • St. Paul Urban
  • Moose Mountain
  • Walker
  • Twin Cities
  • Mankato
Option 2:
Run or attempt to run:
  • Med City 1/2 marathon
  • Minneapolis marathon
  • Grandmas
Surgery if required (late June or early July) which means
  • Skip Eugene Curnow
  • Probably skip St. Paul Urban
The run the rest of the races:
  • Moose Mountain
  • Walker
  • Twin Cities
  • Mankato
Now the truth is I am not sure option 2 will work at least in finishing Minneapolis and Grandmas but since the money is paid, I have nothing to lose but a little more pride.

It's also possible that the Dr will suggest another option altogether or discourage me from running until I am pain free.

I just know that one way or another I will get through some of the runs still this year and the ones I can't do I will do next year or who knows, maybe I will just use this year as training to run them all next year.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

End of the dream - DNF at LWTM

Ok, maybe the post title is a bit over the top. I sat a goal for myself to get healthy and to reestablish a marathon base by running all of the MN outdoor marathons. I was not concerned with how fast but figured that as the year went on, the base would return and times would improve.

Lake Wobegon Trail MarathonA funny thing about the goal is that I messed up the first part by tearing my medial meniscus (again) in my left knee about 6 weeks back. Using a conservative Galloway method and a cortisone shot I got through the first marathon and went in concerned but optimistic for today's Lake Wobegon Trail marathon.

For anyone considering Lake Wobegon Trail, it is a runners marathon, a nice relatively flat course, great volunteers and a low key event exactly what I love. The course was bit more enjoyable than I expected and the aid stations were often and the volunteers were very encouraging. Before every aid station they had signs with positive sayings, I love that kind of thing as it helps reinforce why I do marathons, to take on something that requires the mind to stay positive so that your body does what it's capable of.

Back to my plans for the race, I had tried to increase my running from 75 to 90 seconds in some test runs leading up to the marathon but quickly learned that was a bad idea as the pain would increase with each run-walk iteration such that after a couple of miles, well it just wasn't much fun. So the plan was to go back to 75 seconds of running and then 60 seconds of walking and hoping it would work again.

The plan worked for 9 or 10 miles but then kind of fell apart as the miles went on. I dropped at mile 18 although I had plenty of time to finish in under their 6 hr time limit as the knee pain had caused me to alter my gait such that I was having hip pain which led to my hamstring tightening up which led to my lower back tightening and as I continued to compensate both of my calves decided to whine too and I was just not capable of running and walking wasn't too pleasant either. The bottom line was I knew that I needed to let go of the MN marathon goal and to go and get the knee repaired or fixed by taking time off of running. So I will be making an appointment with an Orthopedic doctor to see what my options are. I am more than a little leery of another surgery as I am pretty sure that they removed about 1/2 of the medial meniscus in my surgery back in 99. If they remove more will I be able to run at all?

Ok, since I always over analyze things, I figured I should do it one more time, so I need to concede that today's DNF although caused by my knee, I did make a couple of minor mistakes that probably didn't help. In the week going into the marathon I did not take aleve to keep the swelling down, I don't like taking drugs of any sort and the pain was manageable but a little less swelling might have helped. I also had my run-walk app stop about 5 miles in which led to me running for probably 3 minutes and based on my previous runs any extra running more than the 75 seconds had always seemed to cause more swelling which would cause a pain increase and once it did it never decreased. I reset the phone and got the app going again and didn't think about until a few miles later when the pain had started to increase consistently and then everything kind of came apart. After mile 9, my mile pace slowed as I wasn't getting the same push off from the left leg and that's when the hip pain started. Another thing I debated doing that may have helped but I chose not to do, was to wrap the knee to try and keep the swelling done, who knows maybe it would have helped. It's also possible that none of these things would have made a bit of difference.

Am I disappointed, absolutely yes but not about the DNF or not being able to finish all of the MM marathons this year, I am bummed to have to deal with the knee. To know that if I try and run, I will have pain is not fun and I am again set up for a bad year of running. Hopefully the doctor can tell me something that doesn't require surgery or for me to stop running and I can reclaim the year.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Goodbye Lebanon Hills for now :-(

I proved something today, what you may ask? Well that's easy, I need to say goodbye to Lebanon Hills and trails in general for at least a little while as today I proved we aren't a good combination.

I was feeling pretty good about getting through Run for the Lakes and thought my recovery was going great but I still took things slow. I ran short on Tuesday and it felt ok, I gave myself a couple of extra days as things didn't work to get out for any runs and since I had convinced myself everything was doing ok and maybe my knee issue was behind me. So, I decided to do an easy 5 miler in Lebanon. After the first mile I knew I had made a mistake so at 1 1/2 miles I turned around and hobbled on back. Apparently Lebanon has just enough stuff on the trail to cause my knee to wobble or something and even the short downhills around Jensen Lake were an issue and for those that know Lebanon, you know how short and not steep the downhills are there.

So for the next few months I will be running on paved bike paths, hopefully that will give my knee a chance to recover and I can get through the next four marathons. I am happy that I have a chance to continue with the marathons but I will miss the trails. It is on trails where I can find true peace and solitude.

The way I figure it, I have until after Grandmas to get back to trails as I will need to do something so I have a chance at Eugene Curnow in July.

On to Lake Wobegon.........................

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Galloway Method explained.............

As part of my analysis of my marathon time at Run for the Lakes, I can't help but analyze the Galloway method that I used:

  • Run 75 secs
  • Walk 60 secs
  • Number of intervals 145 1/2
So what does this mean, it means I get to do some extrapolation of my numbers as it relates to running and walking which the numbers geek inside me loves.

For those that just want the analysis, here goes, I first guesstimated my approximate paces for run-walk intervals as I am not sure of how fast (run pace) or slow (walk pace) I managed but it gives you an idea of how much running you still do even when you run 1 1/4 to 1 ratios. You can see my guesstimates for my run-walk ration here and my actual mile splits at the end of this post (my Garmin totaled 26.5 miles).

Galloway Method – estimates for Run for the Lakes Marathon
Estimate 1SecondsMinutesMilesPace (min)Marathon Time (hrs)

Estimate 2SecondsMinutesMilesPace (min)Marathon Time (hrs)

Estimate 3SecondsMinutesMilesPace (min)Marathon Time (hrs)

Estimate 4SecondsMinutesMilesPace (min)Marathon Time (hrs)

So using estimate 2, I ran for ~17 miles at a 10 min 31 sec pace and walked ~9 miles at 16 min 0 sec pace. Doing this pace with the run-walk brought me home in 5 hrs 25 minutes. The way I viewed the run-walk approach is that I did 145 accelerations with 60 seconds of recovery between accelerations. If I had run all of the miles at this pace, my marathon time would have been 4 hrs 36 minutes, if I had walked every mile, my marathon time would have taken almost 7 hrs. So the run-walk approach cost me around 50 minutes off of my best case result but saved me 90 minutes off of worse case.

Considering the knee pain, it allowed me to finish the race with some energy left over and based on my other 35+ marathons it might have been the easiest especially when you consider training, etc....

Galloway provides the following chart for Walk Break Ratios to give you an idea of ratios to pace:
See more at:

He lists the following principles for the run-walk approach on his site:
  • Continuous use of a muscle will result in quicker fatigue
  • The longer the run segment, the more fatigue
  • Run Walk Run is a form of interval training
  • Conservation of resources
  • Quicker recovery
  • Less stress on the “weak links”
  • Ability to enjoy endorphins
  • Reduce core body temperature
To which I think all I have proven all to be true. My weak links were my training and knee and I maintained a consistent pace which I have not done so in the past.

So what changes should I make for the next race, I could simply increase the run by 15, 10 or 5 seconds per interval which would result in marathon times of (respectively):
  • 5 hrs 16 minutes 37 seconds
  • 5 hrs 19 minutes 8 seconds
  • 5 hrs 21 minutes 55 seconds
Interesting experiment to verify and the good news is in less than 2 weeks I can, so I think I will shoot for 85 seconds of running followed by 60 seconds of walking. Surely I can manage 10 more seconds, right and if I do I save about 9 minutes off my next marathon. First up though I need to test the knee today to see if I can run.

I love this kind of over analysis, stay tuned for more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

15 Seconds Faster
Next Race Seconds Minutes Miles Pace (min) Marathon Time (hrs)
Running 11,745 195.75 18.64 10.50 4.59
Walking 7,255 120.91 7.56 16.00 6.99
Total 19,000 316.66 26.20 12.09 5.28
10 Seconds Faster
Next Race Seconds Minutes Miles Pace (min) Marathon Time (hrs)
Running 11,462 191.04 18.19 10.50 4.59
Walking 7,686 128.10 8.01 16.00 6.99
Total 19,148 319.13 26.20 12.18 5.32
5 Seconds Faster
Next Race Seconds Minutes Miles Pace (min) Marathon Time (hrs)
Running 11,136 185.60 17.68 10.50 4.59
Walking 8,183 136.38 8.52 16.00 6.99
Total 19,319 321.98 26.20 12.29 5.37

Run for the Lake Marathon mile splits:
Mile Mile Pace Total Pace
1 12:10.39 12:10.39
2 12:18.28 24:28.67
3 12:10.90 36:39.57
4 11:56.52 48:36.09
5 12:27.87 1:01:03.96
6 12:17.83 1:13:21.79
7 12:19.70 1:25:41.49
8 12:21.24 1:38:02.73
9 12:14.07 1:50:16.80
10 12:15.01 2:02:31.81
11 12:09.10 2:14:40.91
12 12:01.69 2:26:42.60
13 11:48.19 2:38:30.79
14 12:17.48 2:50:48.27
15 12:23.92 3:03:12.19
16 12:16.33 3:15:28.52
17 12:15.92 3:27:44.44
18 12:16.27 3:40:00.71
19 12:12.19 3:52:12.90
20 12:51.85 4:05:04.75
21 12:16.91 4:17:21.66
22 12:34.18 4:29:55.84
23 12:22.42 4:42:18.26
24 12:33.80 4:54:52.06
25 13:32.42 5:08:24.48
26 12:03 5:20:27.48
27 5:20.35 5:25:47.83


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