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.


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