Friday, October 13, 2017

Ultra Loony Completed

Another Ultra Loony completed, this one was the most interesting of them all although each one has been a great adventure. I went into the event with 3 weeks of not quite normal training after 6 weeks of not being able to run.  Up until the first race started I wasn't sure if I had should even attempt trying to do the races. I had run every Ultra Loony and although I finished the slowest or all Ultra Loony finishers last year I still finished (last year was another race running through an injury). Part of my mindset for this years race was although the pain was far more difficult to absorb than the previous year, I had manage it during the 3 weeks I worked to get to marathon pace and I hadn't tore it again so maybe it would hold or I could deal with it. Plus, I had tapered a week, so my injury might even have healed and then you add in the normal marathon magic and I just had to go for it.

The weather forecast was great for Saturday and ok for Sunday for temp but rain was in the forecast. They ended up right.
 The first event was the 10k which I again was running with my wife (Karyn) and besides the hip adductor pretty much wouldn't allow me to run hard at all but I wasn't sure if I could hold her pace or not. The good news was that Karyn didn't push it hard (thank you) and had decided to do a 10-1 run-walk method which I went along with. It kept it mentally easy for me and the only complication was when I talked to an old friend at the water station at mile 5 and then I had to push it to catch back up to her. That was not easy but I made it and did no damage. So in some ways although I did have moderate pain, I was able to endure it and get to the finish line. Although, coming down the hill to the finish line was a problem as every step radiated in the hip but I manage it.

The next event was the 5k and this year my daughter (Katie) and her husband (Andrew) decided to run so I decided to just go my own pace and let them go at their own pace. I knew with my run-walk method especially in a 5k, it might not be easy to stay with them. As it turned out, I got a bit swept up in race excitement and really was enjoying the new course, they took us down Selby and then looped over to Summit versus the normal up Summit, turnaround and back down Summit. A nice change. I was able to actually run a bit faster than I had planned and other than the downhill to the finish I was quite pleased. That radiated a little more than it did in the 10k. I finished with no damage and then my daughter and her husband finished shortly after me.

The highlight of the Saturday events though was watching my granddaughter (Maddie - age 2 1/2) run the 1/2 mile. She had a smile on her face the whole time and watching her zigzag the course with her parents was a delight. She even fell down and popped right up and kept on going. When she came over to high five my wife and myself, we were thrilled.

The marathon, the big and final test as during my 3 week ramp I had not been able to go over 10 miles without experiencing serious pain. Originally my youngest daughter (Kristin) had signed up but her work schedule had kept her from getting in the runs she needed to be able to do the race and as it turned out was out of town for the weekend.
I had rested the week leading up to the marathon and had not had any change in pain on Saturday so I was hoping I would hold up. I have run so many events injured that whether I like it or not, I have to face the fact that for whatever reason, I am comfortable to embrace and manage running in pain. I am sure the psycho babble folks could explain it and probably tell me of my character flaws, I just know I can do it so I do and I don't think I am the worse for doing so, in many ways I think it has helped me to have greater confidence and belief in myself as continuing to push through pain has given me satisfaction. Don't misunderstand, being injury free and trained so I can run hard and finish strong is even more satisfying.

For the marathon, my only goal was to finish ahead of the cutoff and with that in mind my plan was to try and run around 13 min/mile pace through the first 10, then 15, then 20 and then get to the finish. Oh with this in mind I did have one other goal, run mile 21 to 22 faster than the previous 20 miles average pace. If I did this then I would win a free pair of Brook Leviates. The concept of winning those shoes kept me thinking about going slow and to take it a mile at a time.

The day ended up having more than a few twists. The plan was again for Karyn to drive me to the light rail station in Bloomington and then pick me up at the finish line. The first twist, Karyn woke up with the flu, so I drove myself to Bloomington thinking she might recover enough and still make it or my daughter was coming so maybe I would get a ride from her.

At the start line, I met some friends for a work picture as my company had formed a TCM marathon corporate team. We met at the Viking ship, as a Bears fan, it was awkward and what's up with "skol". I also looked for my Marathon Maniacs group as we too talked about meeting up at the boat for a picture but with the rain disrupting the morning, I did not see any maniacs. The race started without any issues and the first 5 miles went great, my pace was around 12:50, not 13 but not 12:00 or 12:30's so I was doing good and the pace had felt easy and the hip pain was mostly negligible. I was basically doing 30-30 galloway but would add extra walking time to keep the mile from getting too quick.

As I cross the road to go around Calhoun, my left knee flipped out and I had excruciating pain (this is my knee with almost no medial meniscus left and the one that I had a cyst in it a while back right on the joint line). I tried to hop/skip/run/walk through it which didn't work and then I had to go to a very slow awkward walk as it was still hurting. As I started to freak out, I just kept walking and telling myself, it's ok, give it time, you are doing fine, you are still moving forward. I just needed to chill and relax and see if it goes away. Thankfully after a little more than a quarter mile it did and I was able to resume my pace. The knee was a bit tender going around Calhoun and Harriet but it was manageable and it took the focus off the hip.

I  ran into a buddy from work around mile 9, he provided me a great pick me up as provided some very positive comments and after chatting with him I started believing I would be able to do it and the positive energy was just awesome and it lee me to thinking, enjoy this, you will give it your all, it's one step at a time, just stay focused in the moment. I started to process the race by just looking at the next milestone in front of me, like get to Nokomis, get to Minnehaha Falls, get to the river, get to the beer stop (normally the Hash House Harriers provide it before the Franklin bridge), cross the river, get through Alarc wall, get to St. Thomas hill, get to the real beer stop, get to Summit, get to the hill, Finish. But for now, just keep moving forward and focus on where you are not how far you have to go and enjoy every minute as you are doing what you love.

As I neared the 1/2 way point, I saw my Katie, Andrew and Maddie, what a great pick me up. They said to keep going and they would see me for sure at St. Thomas. I have had unbelievable support from my family for my running and I so appreciate what they have allowed me to be able to do. Thank you!!

After Nokomis on the way to Minnehaha Falls, I saw a legendary ultra runner named John Taylor (he is a 100 miler finishing machine and always is so positive) who was watching the race. I yelled his name expecting him to just wave or something (probably thinking who was that guy as we have chatted in the past but it has now been years since I have been able to run trails or we have talked), yet he recognized me which again gave me a huge mental boost. I do so miss the trail running community and the trails.

As I got through the Falls, the rain started picking up, we had some off and on rain earlier but nothing sustained. Now I do love running in the rain, I don't like to have to go out the door into the rain but rain during a run, I enjoy. As I went down West River Road, I was hurting but I knew I was on pace to finish and I kept telling myself, you are doing this, you hip has held up through 15, just get to 18, enjoy the rain, you know you will not stop so keep the pace so later if everything blows up, you can walk to the finish. I was hobbling during this section but so were a lot of other runners. As I neared the Franklin bridge, I was almost freaking out again but this time with an overwhelming amount of positive energy that I was going to make it. I crossed over the river and my focus turned to maintain the pace so that you can win the shoes. I had decided before the start that if I could run the pace I should that I would go for the shoes and run mile 21 up the hill as hard as I could, if my hip blew, I would walk it in. This strategy worked great during the race as it kept me moving at my planned pace with no urgency to go faster as that might take away my chance for shoes (and blow out the hip).

Mile 21 came and I went for it and I did it! Here is a copy of what I received from Brooks after the race:

Dear Runner,

Congratulations! You successfully conquered the Brooks Infinite Energy Mile during the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. You have won a free pair of BrooksLevitates as a result of your tremendous accomplishment. 

As a reminder, the Brooks Infinite Energy Mile was between mile markers 21 and 22 on the course, and you won by having a faster split time for that mile than your average pace from the start of the race to the beginning of 21. That is not easy, and we commend you!

As I got up the hill I saw Katie, Andrew and Maddie again, what a great pick me up as the weather was not good for spectators. I asked her if she had talked to her Mom and she said she was not feeling any better. After I went by them, I thought that they must have brought 2 cars, wow what dedication to supporting me as I knew her husband had to go in to work around 2. I was hurting a bit as I continued past St. Thomas, part of the pain was normal based on my limited running coming into the event, part of it was the hip was still not happy with me for running up the hill (or probably at all) to go for the shoes. The pain was manageable as I knew I could still make the cutoff by walking it in but I wanted to finish this up as quickly as I could as the rain was starting to affect many runners around me and I thought it might get me as well. So I just tried to stay in the moment and worked to keep the run-walk thing happening. I again have to give credit to Jeff Galloway's Run-Walk program, as it again was working for me so unbelievably well that I was almost in shock that I was able to do this race thus far so consistently. Thank you Jeff!.

Before too long, I was on John Ireland and headed to the hill. As expected it hurt but it was still a good hurt as I was about to finish my 12th Twin Cities Marathon and complete my 4th Ultra Loony Challenge (and maintain the charter streak :-)

I saw Katie and Maddie as I came into the finish and stopped and chatted, she said she would be getting a ride home as her husband did have to go to work. I thought to myself, that might be a problem. After the finish, I picked up my clothes (a dry shirt and jacket were so needed and felt so good) and medals and I told Katie that no problem getting a ride except my car was at 28th street station. We checked with Karyn (not doing well enough to drive) and discussed options (Uber, etc...) but decided to take the light rail from St. Paul to US West to pick up the light rail to where my car was (Green Line to Blue Line - approximately an 1 hr and a half but free for those that were running today). This was working great and Maddie was enjoying the train ride  except our timing wasn't good as we arrived at US Bank Stadium coincided with the Viking game ending so it was a packed train to our stop (it was the most purple I have ever seen). It all worked out just fine, Maddie was a hit with the Viking fans and they were interested in hearing about the marathon. And I would be remiss to not say the Fans were very nice, almost made me think good things of the Vikings and yes I had told them I was a Bears fan.

We had one more issue in getting home, I don't have a car seat in my car so the last complication was driving home to get Karyn's car and then heading to the MOA to pick up Katie and Maddie.

The good news is it all worked out just fine.

To sum up this event, I ran a conservative (slow pace) and was able to maintain it most of the way. I am pretty sure it allowed me to win the Brooks shoes as mile 21-22 was my fastest mile of the first 22. The hip did better than I thought and although we had 10 miles of rain, it was mostly light. The temp was good and I am quite happy to have made it through the events.

I love being able to enjoy the events of Twin Cities Marathon weekend with the family and this year watching Maddie finish her first race was a blast, with her huge smile and determination to finish, she epitomized the fun of running, what a great event and what great memories from it.


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