Spartans, Swiss Days & New Goals

So, its been awhile. Life has a way of getting extremely busy especially during the summers. And add to that I wasn’t able to run the majority of June and I haven’t felt like writing much.

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I was able to do the Spartan Stadion Race. While I wasn’t able to do it as quickly as I would have liked I had a blast doing it. That was mostly do to having someone from to run it with. Dr. Ryan, my chiropractor, did the race with me and was a lot of fun to run with. I probably would have slacked off it I hadn’t been trying to keep up with him. Managed to cut 10 minutes off my time from last year and reinforced that I still don’t know how to climb a rope. One day I will conquer my nemesis the rope!

After the Spartan I started running a the 2 min on/off cycle and only for around 2 miles. Until the end of June when one of the guys, John, goaded me into running with him. We maintained an ok pace, around 10 minute miles but we ran for all 4 miles. Came to find out that he had already done several miles before the group got there and continued for a couple more after. But, it was what I needed.

John also encouraged me to come out to the bike rides as a way to build fitness. So, I thought lets give it another try. Attempt #3 went a lot better. I took the old Schwinn and met up with the group. and it didn’t go too bad. Although, the guys did tell me that I was fighting the weight of the all steel bike and that a newer little bike would be amazing things to both my comfort level and ability to keep up.

The weekend while at a used sports equipment shop I found an aluminum Cannondale from the 90’s. On the first test ride with no adjustments I knew that they guys where right. The Cannondale was so much easier to ride than my Schwinn. So we got it. John had a set of clip-less pedals that he wasn’t using and told me I could have them. I just needed to get cleats and shoes.

Being attached to your pedals is kinda interesting. I feel like it didn’t take as much effort to get the same power per stroke the trade off being when you stop you have to remember to un-clip. If you don’t you slowly fall over. I’m happy to report that I remembered to un-clip before I stopped every time. However, three quarters of the way through the ride after having stopped I forgot to push off and get moving before clipping my right foot back in and slowly fell over on my left. I’m told this is a right of passage that everyone goes through. I was just bruised and had a couple of scraps so I was able to continue. And I dare say that I actually had fun.

I have now purchased a bike jersey and shorts to go along with my shoes. And since the group usually rides on Wednesday’s the jersey is hot pink and the shorts match. Why? Because on Wednesday’s we wear pink!

At the end of July I ran in the Swiss Days 5K with several of my cousins and brother. I knew that there was no way i could stay with my speedster cousins having only been back to running for 3 weeks but I still wanted to put up a decent time. My family did very well. I got 18th in my age group with a time of 28:46. Given that I’m still rebuilding from the injuries to my foot and calf I’m pretty happy.

received_2082643498696906On the way home from the great Indiana road trip we stopped for the night in Albuquerque, NM and I found a great little 5K to run.  The Rudi Cancer 5K.  This is an annual run to benefit cancer research in honor of Kevin Rudi.  Compared to a lot of the runs I do this was very small.  About 60 people, mostly family and friends of the Rudi family.  His mom came and introduced herself to us and was extremely friendly.  Even though most of the field already knew each other they were all very welcoming.  It was one of the most challenging 5k courses I’ve encountered.  The entire first mile was uphill, the second was downhill and then back up for the third.  It was brutal, but a lot of fun.

It has got me re-evaluating my goals for the year. Between injuries, newborn, work, and we are trying to sell our house and find a new one, I’m not sure that my goal of sub-18 5K is reasonable.  I just don’t have the time to train without sacrificing time with my growing family.  So, this year my revised goal is to get my 5K under 24 minutes.  But, don’t think that I’ve given up on my quest for a sub 18, its just going to move to 2020. All the rest of the goals will then push back 1 year.  So it will look like this:

received_476802426218927-12019 5K under 24 minutes
2020 5K under 18 minutes
2021 10K under 40 minutes
2023 13.1 miles under 90 minutes
2025 26.2 miles Under 180 minutes

Due to the longer distances involved I’m going to give myself 2 years for both the half and full marathons.

There is SO MUCH more that has happened since the last post but that will have to wait for another time.

Until then…C-ya!

 

More Injuries and Addiction

I’ve been reading a lot of books on running and the personal stories of various runners.  They have been written by various levels of runners, although they are all faster

and perhaps more serious than I am.  From the instructional 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald and Endure by Alex Hutchinson to the historic Born to Run and Natural Born Heros by Christopher McDougall to the inspirational North by Scott Jurek, and Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor, and the combination of inspiration and instruction of Run Forever by Amby Burfoot. Then my personal favorite, the humorous and inspirational The Incomplete Book of Running by the host of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Peter Sagal.peter-sagal-the-incomplete-book-of-running

All these books have had some great advice and given me things to think about on my own running journey.  While I’ll never be going for an FKT on the Appalachian Trail, or any other trail for that matter, or competing for a chance to podium on an international race.  I’m still extremely surprised when I get a podium in local 5ks and that is usually because they are small races.  It has made me realize that every runner, regardless of level, has a story.  Whether it is a health scare, overcoming addiction, therapy, or any other host of reasons, we all have something that got us started.

But, for all the host of reasons that we get started we all seem to have one thing in common, other than running of course.  The year that no matter what we did we were plagued by injury.  Sometimes it’s not a whole year, sometimes it’s longer.  For some of us it signals an end to running, some come back even stronger.  Almost all of us realize what running means to us and reflect on what running has brought us, especially those who have been doing it for a long time.  I mean what else do we have to do but think about running while we aren’t able to.

All my life I’ve battled things that, according to most, should have stopped me from running. Inflamed growth plates in my heals, the flattest feet known to man, knee problems, a list of injuries three pages long. I was told during my junior year of high school track by a doctor that I should stop running forever due to a back problem. And last but not least, asthma.  And not just the mild variety. As a kid I was as bad as they get.  I could only play outside for a couple hours a day at one point because I couldn’t be out in the pollen for longer than that without my lungs seizing up.

I actually think that the asthma and back issues are what have driven me to continue running for as long as I have.  And even with all the of injuries, most of which came through my own stupidity and lack of self-preservation, I’ve always recovered and carried on.  They have never strung themselves together in any way that would keep me down for more than 3 weeks.

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Unfortunately, I’m not as young and able to heal as I once was.  I talked in my last post about having plantar fasciitis for the second time in my right foot.  That stopped me from running completely for 3 weeks and then, at the advice of my physical therapist Charlie, a very slow return.  I’m very happy to report that my right foot feels amazing.  It’s not completely recovered as I still feel a little fatigue toward the end of 3 mile efforts, but it is less each time out.  I have been using a walk run method again suggested by Charlie of 2 min on and 2 min off.  This has been extremely effective and I’m maintaining an average around 11 minutes per mile.  Given that I walk for a good portion of the run is pretty good. It’s also further pointed out that I have no sense of pace.  Some of the runs are well under 8 min/mile and some are around 9:30. And it’s not that the first run cycles are really fast and then they slow down.  They seem to be random.

donut-1024x1024 About a week ago I went to Tortoise and Hare for the monthly donut run.  I was having a really good run.  I was even gaining on one of the faster runners when it felt like someone stabbed me in the calf.  Luckily, it was at the end of a run cycle, so I stopped and tried to stretch it on the curb, then walk it off.  However, at the next run cycle it was back within a few steps.  Did I stop and head back?  Hell NO!  I adjusted my foot strike to land on my heel and that seemed to help.  So, I soldiered on, albeit a little slower.  It also felt super awkward.  I finished my three miles with a noticeable limp.  Later that day, I found myself in my in-law’s pool swimming laps with a 4 and 6-year-old taking turns riding on my back.  Nothing like swimming with a moving 40 lbs weight on your back.

Over the next couple of days there was a dull nagging pain, so I decided that I should rest it and took 5 days off until the Thursday Arrowhead loop.  Which come to think of it is where the plantar started.  Hmmm…

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Anyway, I was glad to be back running and Coach V even came with Molly in a carrier to walk while we all ran.  I intended to take the 3-mile cut of the 4-mile loop, but during the first 2 min run something stabbed my calf again, but this time the pain was more intense.  I walked the rest of that run cycle and the next trying to stretch as I was walking.  I also decided to turn around at the mile mark and head back.  A smarter person would have turned around right away, but I’m not too bright when it comes to injuries.

The new part is that I noticed some bruising around where the pain was.  Since no good can come of that I called Charlie and will get it looked at tonight.  I fear that he is going to tell me to lay off running for a few weeks again.

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The issue is that it’s going to start getting difficult to be built back up for the Swiss Days race and the speed I would like to do that in if I can’t get back to training soon.  In the meantime, I now have a carrier for my bike, so I can join the group for rides to try to keep\rebuild my fitness.

Coach V and I have been talking about addiction recently.  This have been mostly due to helping a friend who realized that she had a problem and has decided to get some help.  Meaning she must move across country.  So, we helped her sort through, pack and load her stuff into a U-Haul for the move.  We have also talked about the number of endurance runners who have had similar type problems in their lives and how running, in some cases extremely long distances, have helped them manage the addiction and overcome it.  There was an interview once where Robert Downy Jr. claimed that he simply replaced one addiction, namely drugs, with another, going to the gym.  He apparently will go workout 2 to 3 times a day, sometimes more.  Maybe that’s what those runners are doing.  Maybe that is kind of what I’m doing.  I’ve had a couple of issues in the past.  Poker being one of them.  I nearly failed out of Purdue because I was playing so much.  I never viewed it as an addiction because I was able to decide to quit playing one day.  After a letter from Purdue stating that if I didn’t get my grades up they would kick me out and meeting a girl that told me she wouldn’t be interested in someone who failed out of school,  I just stopped and didn’t play again for 3 years.  And I’ve never played with the frequency or stakes that I used to.

A couple of other things developed after poker that I’m not quite ready to go into on a forum that is as public as this, but there were things that replaced poker.  I never thought of them as an addiction, but they could be.  I never got involved with any kind of drugs.  Not for lack of opportunity, just never interested me.  Coach V has suggested that perhaps running is an addiction I have.  According to her I get irritable, moody, and jittery if I haven’t run in a few days.  I don’t think that I’ve taken it to an unhealthy level, but it does explain some things.

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It might be somewhat telling that I’m not scheduled in a road race until the end of July and its driving me a little nuts.  I’m scheduled to do a Spartan Stadium Sprint at the Arizona Cardinals Stadium in a couple of weeks with my Chiropractor, 

so maybe that will take the edge off a little.

Until then…C-YA!

Injuries and Cautiousness

Being injured sucks.

Now, I’m sure that seems like an obvious statement but there it is. I’ve been down for almost 3 weeks now with plantar fascitis.

Arrowhead LoopIt happened on an unscheduled Monday morning run around the Arrowhead Loop with Jon and Courtney. Sunday Courtney posted on the FB group that they were in town and asked if anyone wanted to join them for a run Monday at 5:30 am. I jumped at the chance to run with them because I hadn’t seen them in awhile.

I was the only person, other than Jon and Courtney, to show up. We started out fairly slow about a 10:30 pace the second mile sped up a little to around a 10 minute pace. At that point Courtney told Jon and I to take off and not worry about staying with her. So, Jon and I took off and went down to a 9:20 pace.

It was in this third mile and chatting with Jon that this run had a shot at negative splits. I’ve never done negative splits on any run of any distance. I was pretty excited by the prospect. So, as we crossed the 3 mile point Jon kicked it up a notch and I went with him.

Jon does a fantastic job of pushing without getting annoying about it. We were cruising along just a little under 9 minute mile pace and I started feeling a twinge in my foot just in front of the heel. Normally I would have stopped and walked a little to feel out what was going on but the prospect of being so close to negative splits for a 4 mile run I pushed on. With about a quarter mile left it was starting to hurt and I changed my gait a little to try to relieve the pain without slowing down. By the time I finished I could barely walk. BUT we got the negative splits finishing the last mile in 9 minutes!

I haven’t been able to run for about a month. I could barely walk the first week and decided that I should get some help with this. Not so much to get through the acute phase but to figure out why it’s happening and prevent the next time.

Cadence-PT-and-PERF-BlueLetters1500x500So, I decided to set an appointment with Charlie Boeyink at Cadence Physical Therapy. Charlie is a runner and often comes on runs with the EYPAZ group and Tortoise and Hare Running store. I decided that this would be a good idea since he is a runner, so he has a better understanding of the stresses of running and the mechanics involved. Not to mention the mentality of an endurance runner. Namely that we are nuts and go insane when we can’t run.

Charlie has a little different approach to PT than a lot of the other physical therapists that I’ve been to. He doesn’t like the model of seeing the therapist for just a couple of minutes and then getting handed off to a technician who, for the most part, watches you do exercises that you do at home. He is very hands on and looks at more than just the injury to what may have contributed to the injury happening in the first place.

He has also introduced me to a new technique. It involves dry needling and, just to up the game a little, he hooked a TENS unit to two of the needles and started running electricity through it.  Dry needling is odd enough on its own and I’ve had that done before, but adding electricity to it is, um….interesting. And I liked it! I liked it a lot actually.

It also seems to have gotten good results. After 3 weeks, I’ve been able to get back to running. Albeit I’m taking it slow and easing back into it, but last Thursday I ran about 2 miles. At Charlie’s advice I ran 2 minutes then walked a minute with very minimal pain. Actually I wouldn’t call it pain as much as mild discomfort, closer to fatigue than pain.

ICR-2019-EB-BannerSaturday morning I ran in the Tortoise and Hare Sports 4 mile Ice Cream Run. For this run I did a 2 minute on and 2 minute recovery cycle. This worked very well. Although my pacing on the run portions is all over the place. the first two cycles were 7:52 and 7:47 respectively. Then a couple of 8:30ish, a 8:09, a 9:45 and the last one was 6:04. I have got to find some consistency. Of course this is a similar problem to what I’ve always had. I have no concept of pacing. That is something to work on as I re-train from this injury.

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The next real race that I’m signed up for is the Swiss Days race at the end of July back in Indiana. I’m hoping that I can be recovered from this injury and able to average 7 minute miles for that race. It would be a return to my high school times in a race that I ran several times when I was in high school. I also will be running with my cousins, as it’s our annual Steiner Gathering.

Berne-Swiss-DaysThis means that my extremely fast cousin Brad will be there. He mentioned recently coming out of retirement from competitive racing to do one more 5K at speed. He is a sub 18 running and may be even faster than that. My goal is going to be to hang on to him for as long as I can and see if he can pull me into a sub 20.

Currently, I don’t know when my next run is going to be. I’m under orders to report back how the 4 mile run went and wait for instructions. In the mean time I’m going to install a hitch on my car and try to find a used bike carrier.

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Until next time…C-YA!

Timing and New Arrivals

4267_1554572271183They say that half of everything is timing. They also say that hindsight is 20/20. With that in mind looking back at the first part of the year this wasn’t a good time to start an aggressive training program for a couple of reasons.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I did a lot of soccer reffing at the beginning of the year. and it extended longer into the year than expected. I tried to start 5K speed training at the same time. I know know that this was less than ideal. I had to skip a lot of training runs to work soccer games and they aren’t quite as equivalent as I hoped. That was mistake #1. I think it actually lead to more mental aspect of running fast than fitness problems.

Once the seemingly never ending soccer season finally ended I was able to get down to the business of training and following the plan that Coach Corrie had laid out for me. It went very well for about a month. I was fairly certain that I was going to die during a few of the sprint workouts. Had what was probably the worst asthma attacks I’ve suffered in the past decade.red-card

The workout was repeat 400s and I only had to do 5. I was actually really excited for this workout even though my search for a track to do it on had failed. 400 was MY race in high school. I know how to run a quarter mile, or so I thought. I found a quarter mile loop in my neighborhood. Laced up the flats and set out on a short warm up to the loop. Coach V even came with to help time them. Temp was good but windy, I mean seriously windy. But I ran track in all kinds of weather. As my middle school coach, Coach Smith, would say, “We are an ALL weather track team.” besides when you are running a loop you have the wind at your back the same amount as its in your face.

We had previously worked out that i would need to run just under 1:30 400s to equal my goal race pace. and my thought was “no problem” I used to be able to go sub 50 seconds. Turns out that was 20+ years ago and a few things have changed. Namely about 70 pounds.

Lap 1:

The first one wasn’t bad came through at 1:23. The main concern I had is that it took all I had to pull that off. I was only suppose to rest for a minute before round 2. I stalled and waited 2 before I felt like my heart wasn’t going to explode.

Lap 2:

This one was somewhat predictably slower. 1:48 I was finishing into a headwind and it was taking a toll. Again waited 2 minutes and went again

Lap 3:

About half way though I was struggling mentally to keep going and walked a couple of steps before turning back into that merciless headwind. The I waited 3 minutes and noticed that coach V was concerned. It had taken me 2:30 to make that lap. And I was apparently starting to look pretty rough. I was losing control of my breathing. Which isn’t good for anyone but is of particular concern for an asthmatic. But did I stop. No, I’m just not built that way.

Lap 4:

I was completely mentally out of this workout at this point. I was beating myself up for taking so long on lap 3. I lost complete control of my breathing and then turned into the wind. A headwind feels like its sucking the air out of your lungs and doesn’t let you replace it faster enough. This greatly amplified the sever asthma attack that was continuing to get worse with each step. 1:52 Ok that was faster but I knew that I was paying for it. I waited about 5 minutes for try to regain my composure and not throw up as soon as I took another step. Coach V suggested calling it a day and reluctantly I agreed. I knew that once I stopped the asthma attack would get worse but I had to get out of this wind if there was hope of controling it.

So we walked home. She tried reassuring me that I did a great job on a very difficult workout made more difficult by the conditions. But frankly, I was pissed off at myself. For being so slow, for walking in a 400 m run, for letting Coach V and coach corrie down. And for letting an asthma attack get so out of control before I started taking it seriously. It took almost 3 hours of constant use of my rescue inhaler and meditation, I may talk about that in a subsequent post, to get to get a handle on it. In hindsight I should have gone to a hospital for it. It took another 3 days before I felt like I was breathing normally again

While I’m still not happy about that day but I know that one bad session does not have to invalidate a program or progress. I was still improving and more importantly having fun.

I felt like I was getting faster, too. During the group runs I was hanging with some of the faster packs, and occasionally leading.

This is where you might expect me to say something along the lines of , “And then disaster struck”. And as cool as that would be to say, it wouldn’t be true. Other parts of my life simply started to take over.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that coach V and I where expecting our 4th addition to the family. This coincided with the last month of the training. The last month of the pregnancy was exhausting for me, so I can’t imagine what is was like for coach V who stayed at her day job up until the day before baby Molly’s arrival. She wasn’t sleeping well do to being so uncomfortable, which meant I wasn’t sleeping well since i’m a pretty light sleeper. I also tried to pick up as many of the household tasks as I could to take some burden off her. So running just moved down the priority list.

The latest addition to the running support crew arrived on April 2 at 8:24 am. 6lbs 8 oz and 19 inches long, easily the biggest coach V has had to date. Coach V made the whole thing look easy. Completely natural birth, no complications at all and we where out of the hospital the next morning in time to get lunch.20190402_100852

Molly is now nearly a month old and we are still trying to re-establish routines and find the new norm for the house. The biggest challenge is Molly wants to eat constantly. I mean this kid is definitely mine she has my ability to eat anytime regardless of how long its been since she last ate. This isn’t the first go around with a baby for me or coach V and this impressive.

So, I think its safe to say that I’ve been a little distracted recently.

There is still time this year to work on my sub 18 5k goal and I haven’t lost hope. I have speed in this body somewhere. I just need to find it again.

I am struggling with staying focused during races. I’ve been running 5ks like I used to run the 400m dash. Go out fast and try to hang on. Its how I ran in high school cross country too. The issue seems to be that after about the 1.5 mile mark my brain starts screaming at me to stop and walk a couple of steps. The main problem is that once you stop and start to walk, even if its just a little bit, its hard to start back up. It also starts a cycle of wanting to stop more frequently. I know this is all part of the mental game and that my body can easily handle running 3 miles, but I don’t know how to get past this mental hurdle.

I recently ran in the Scottsdale Run the Runway. Coach V and Molly came to support me 4 days after she was born.

Talk about a flat course. Basically you start in the middle of the airport on a taxiway. Run to the end turn left to get on the runway. Go the length of the runway. Turn left back to the Taxiway and run back to where you started.

4275_1554572287538Before the race I bumped into one of the guys from the Embrace your Pace Group and decided to try to stay with him. I did alright for the first half. it was a rolling start so there was alot of dodging slower runners and strollers at the beginning. Aaron is a big believer in negative splits, which is kinda the opposite approach I’ve always used. However, with someone there who I know that I can stay with during the group runs I thought I would give it a try.

I made 2 errors.

Error number 1, we had just had a kid 4 days ago. I was exhausted. Turns out that birth is taxing even for the dad, although I’m sure its to a lesser degree than the mom.

Error number 2

This is kind of 2 errors in one. I had only been on 1 run in the previous 2 weeks. and that lead to the second part of the error. I kinda have 2 modes, going hard and seriously laid back. I have no concept of internal pacing. During the group runs I push myself to stay with people. Aaron has more pace disciple than I do and uses the group runs as “easy” run. So, my pushing after a month of intense training can stay with Aaron’s easy to moderate run. His race pace is..um..faster. Had I stayed with the training through to the race I may have had a shot of staying with him. After 2 weeks of nearly nothing I feel lucky to have stayed with him as long as I did.

It was really cool to see him at the end of the race cheering me to the finish. He did mention that the strength of my finishing kick was an inspiring thing to watch. Admittedly I can drop the hammer down when I need to, just not for very long.

But my kick is part of what frustrates me so much. I can get down under 5:30 pace during the kick to the finish. So to me that says that I’ve got the foot turnover and power to go fast. I’m just not sure if I don’t have the endurance or my brain doesn’t think I have the endurance to go that fast for 3 miles.

My high school coach always thought that I was subconsciously holding on to too much reserve. I think it it has more to do with going too fast at the start, and slowing down to a recharge pace in the middle. So, next race I’m going to try for a negative split. Its time to stop thinking like a sprinter and think like an endurance runner.

Until next time…C-YA!

Catch up and Coaching

Run 3-6-19

So, it’s been awhile. About 2 months actually.  And boy does it seem like it’s been a non-stop couple of months.  I keep thinking that I need to write a new post and then I get distracted with something.  Ok, mostly soccer.

January and February are pretty busy times if you are a soccer official in AZ. I was working 4-5 nights a week and nearly every one of them was 2 games.  Then just when I thought the season was over I got pulled into the post season tournament.  I was surprised mostly because of a rule that you have to have been reffing in AZ for 3 years before your eligible.  However, the AZ association, AIA, talked to the Indiana association, IHSAA, and they confirmed that I’ve been a ref for nearly 10 years and have been working their post season tournament for the past 5.

So, I worked the first round of the tournament and I thought that would be it.  I even put my AIA jersey away for the year.  Then I got a call that they wanted me to work the boy’s quarterfinal.

Then came the tournaments.  Over the course of 2 weekends I worked 17 fairly high level games.  It was a lot of fun but SO exhausting.  I also had a chance to talk with some higher rated officials who gave me some good advice on things to work on.

Bridging Soles

While all this was going on I started working with a running coach Corrie VanKampen and her coaching company Bridging Soles (https://www.bridgingsoles.com/).  After an initial conversation with her about where I currently am and reviewing my goals she developed a 12-week plan.  She agrees that the goal of an 18 minute 5K in 2019 is aggressive but is doable.  The basics of the plan is a lot of slow (conversation pace) running with some speed work sprinkled in.

I love having a coach again.  I say again but I haven’t had one since high school.  It’s great having someone to give encouragement and let you know that you are doing well and on a good path.  We talk either by phone or Skype once a week.  I have a tendency to be my own worst critic and am very hard on myself when I don’t hit the times that I’m supposed to on training runs.  Coach Corrie has been great at telling me that I’m doing well and developing more speed at a good rate.

Spring training

Which brings me to what Coach Corrie is calling my first practice 5K, the Spring Training 5K held in Surprise, AZ.  (Side note: this is my favorite name for a city.  I yell ‘Surprise!’ in the car every time that we go by the city limit sign.)

So…. Back to the run.  This was an evening run on a Friday night.  It was possibly the flattest course I’ve ever ran.  Officially there was 29 ft of elevation change. I’m pretty sure that the step off the curb was the largest change that I noticed. It started and stopped on the concourse of the KC Royals and Texas Rangers spring training Ballpark.  It was a lot of fun finishing there under the lights.  I also ran, pun intended, into a very energetic running from my home state of Indiana.  She’s was actually shocked when I told her I knew where Kokomo was and that I had been there!  And in case anyone was wondering the Beach Boys song is not about Kokomo, Indiana.  If you go there with that expectation you will be disappointed.

If I’m honest I was a little disappointed with my time.  28:08.  I think a couple of things worked against me.  It was a night race.  Which means that I was already tired from the day both mentally and physically.  My day job, I’m an engineer, has become a lot more demanding in the last couple of months.  Which is a good thing as I was starting to get a little bored, but it’s part of the reason I haven’t written as much on here.

I need to get in more miles.  Coach was letting me get away with using my reffing in place of long runs on the weekends.  I don’t like to do training runs on days I ref.  If I were to run before the games, then it’s not really fair to the kids playing to have a ref that is already tired.  If any of you have seen me after reffing all day you know that I’m in NO SHAPE AT ALL to run.  Not so much that I couldn’t physically do it although there would be hard from that aspect.  After a couple of games, I’m so mentally drained I can’t always decide what to eat after the games.  Reffing is very mentally tasking on top of the physical effort.  While it’s not a bad replacement I don’t think that its retraining my brain to think of a 5k as “a quick little jaunt through the park”.  I seem to have 3 speeds. Walk, sprint and long distance run.  I need to find another gear in between sprint and my current marathon pace.

I need to load new music on my watch.  I’m had the same very short playlist on my watch since last St Patrick’s Day.  While I still like the songs I need something else it’s become too predictable.  Last year once the runs/races got long I started carrying my phone and listened to tunes through Pandora or Amazon Prime so the playlist was always changing.  However, since the races only last about a half hour and I want them to only be able 20 minutes I’m not taking my phone anymore.

 

Last week on the advice of Coach Corrie I subbed out the prescribed speed work to see how fast I could burn a mile.  In my opinion it was not fast.  I did one mile, waited about 10 minutes to recover and then did another.  Mile one was 7:42 and mile 2 was 8:40. Again this was done at the end of the day (you would think I would know better) and in the second mile I started having some pain in my calf that radiated up into my knee.  Similar to the pain I had last fall.

I did learn several things during the runs.  First and foremost, I need to start doing the exercises that I was given for my calves last fall.  Second, my brain is a noisy place in the evenings.  Which is why I need to go back to more before work running.

The third is a little more difficult.  I found myself looking at my watch to see how far was left and thought “oh no, I’m only half way.”  Which seems ridiculous for someone who only a couple of months ago ran 26.  This got me to thinking I thought the same thing during the 5K at the 1.5 mark. The main problem with it is that it completely demotivated me and made the last half mile a struggle.  I instantly started feeling every ache and pain.  I actually thought I can’t do this at one point.  Yet last week I ran with the group on Thursday and barely noticed when we had gone 3 miles.

There is a mental game to running and I’m struggling with it right now.  I think the answer is to just run more.  Or follow the plan at least.

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This week I’ll be joining the Embrace your Pace group on Tuesday for the Rio Loop and Thursday for the Arrowhead loop.  Speed work on Wednesday and I’m not sure about my weekend running plans yet.  Until then…C-Ya!

Review and Goals

 

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I feel like I’ve moved from the realm of casual runner into a more a serious category.  The year started off with some fairly intense training for a sub 2 hour marathon attempt in May.  That training included the beginning of this blog as I wanted to document the workouts and my thoughts on them and it provides accountability.

Several mistakes were made.  Number one: whereas may is the start of the road racing season in Indiana, my home for the better part of 37 years, in Arizona the longer races are non-existent.  Something about it being too hot or something.  I had to accelerate the training plan by a month to run a race in Illinois on one of my weekend treks back to Indiana.  This proved difficult along with adjusting to a new job, a new relationship, and life in the desert I didn’t do the best job of sticking to it.  Although I didn’t do too badly either.  The main problem came as the race approached I got a cold that turned into an extremely high fever on the plane ride to the Midwest and respiratory  infection #1 for the year.

During the training for the half I ran in several races.  I know that a lot of the more serious distance runners, especially the longer distances advise against it but I find  it helps me to stay motivated.  Speaking of motivation.  I found a group to run with in the Embrace Your Pace group.

It’s a great bunch of people.  I started running with them after asking about groups at the local running store.  Tortoise  and Hare Sports and just showed up not knowing anyone.  They where all very welcoming and have a very wide variety of paces from the very fast to the more leisurely.  They welcomed me and treated me as if I’ve been running with them for years.  And several, ok most, of the them are a little nuts.  A lot of them run triathlons, several marathoners,  some super fast 5k runners, even some folks doing ultras.  Even with so many doing very intense running they are still incredibly approachable and willing to help anyone.

I had never even dreamt of doing a triathlon but between these guys and coach V I did my first sprint tri.  Still not sure what I think about them but I’m willing to try again.

Over the course of the summer I mostly ran in a 5K series that had a race every other week.  I peaked out mid series with a 24 minute time.  Not super fast but I was happy with it.

 

At the end of the summer started marathon training and respiratory infection #2.  Another round of antibiotics and prednisone for the win!  It did slow the start of training down a little bit but after a few days on the drugs I was able to really get going.  I chose several races along the training to coincide  with some of the long runs.

This was the most intense and consistent training that I have done for a race since high school.  I had the “high” goal, as Somone would put it of running a sub 5 hour marathon and the fallback of being under 5:30.  The training went well and several of the races during the training went very well.  My best half marathon time came at the Craft Brew Half of 2:29 and a grey and drizzly  morning.  I had signed up for the race 6 days before the run after my 20K run was canceled  due to weather.  I set out with a goal of 2:30 so I was really happy with the result.

I also completed the Spartan trifecta by running the Beast while marathon training.  If ever there is a run that will test your endurance and grit it’s a Spartan Beast.  Between the elevation changes and the obstacles it was kind of  grueling. I believe the marathon is still a more mentally tasking races but the Beast was good prep.

 

A week before the marathon respiratory  infection #3 struck.  I went into the doctor faster this time and once again got antibiotics a prednisone.  He was confident that we could get it cleared up before the race although I was still concerned about some to=f the lingering effects.  The last couple of weeks before a marathon is suppose to be pretty easy running.  Its known as “The Taper”.  I’m not very good at it.  Its hard when you have been running and building for the past several months  to not go out a run much.  It probably didn’t help that the tapper was at the beginning of high school soccer season.  Officiated 8 games in the week leading up to the race.  Keep in mind that a soccer game has me running between 3 and 6 miles per game.  It’s all stop and go but still not really resting.

On Race day I was feeling good and really surprised  myself in the first half of the race.  The second half was a grind but coach V and Jeannie where along the route to cheer me on and I sprinted the last quarter mile.

I’ve been told most of my life running that if you can sprint at the end you weren’t working hard enough during the race.  I don’t believe that.  My ability to push and sprint at the end has nothing to do with how much energy I have left or how much was expended in the last 25.9 miles.  I’m a sprinter. Always have been and always will be.  There is a surge of adrenaline and endorphins that hit my like a freight train when I turn the last corner and can see the finish.  No matter how exhausted I am I can always get my legs to go back into the 400m dash form and go.  This has resulted in several collapses once I’ve crossed the line but my brain can always out rule the fatigue if the end is near.

I planned to take a couple of weeks off running to let my body recover from the marathon but I’m about as good at that as I am the taper.  Trying to rest and recover during the height  of soccer season doesn’t work very well. Then just when Christmas break starts and I have nothing scheduled for a couple of weeks…respiratory infection #4!  Because why not finish the year with another one.

This time we are getting serious and having things tested to figure out why I keep getting these.

I also learned a lot about running. From the mechanics that are involved to nutrition and how caffeine  effects the body an hydration. I’ve also learned how much I still don’t know but I’m working on that.

2018 was a good year running. 22 races, including the marathon, a Tough Mudder with my friends and a Spartan Trifecta.

El Jefe

El Jefe hosted a goal setting event where several of us gathered and talked about where we wanted to be in a year.  Not just fitness related goals but life in general.  Somone lead the group discussion of goals and dreams by having us write out 3 to 4 ideas of where we wanted to go in 2019.  She encouraged us to have a personal goal, a professional goal, and a fitness goal.  We also talked about high goals and low goals.

The high goal is the ideal.  The where you truly want to be or accomplish. These should be obtainable but a definite stretch to do it.  The low goal is along the same lines but a less of a stretch.  For example in the marathon I mentioned my high goal was under 5 hours and my low goal was 5:30.  While I didn’t get my sub 5 goal I was still very happy with the 5:20.

We also talked about what is motivating us and how those motivations help drive us to get our goals.  And that if our goals and motivations don’t align it likely that we won’t get our goals.  This is why most New Year resolutions fail so quickly.  They don’t align with what motivates us.

So, my high goals are to pay off my consumer debt, credit cards, car loans, etc. and 25% of my student loan.  Without going into details this is a good sized number.

Now for fitness.  I’ve got some big plans  Actually, my goals go beyond 2019 to 2025.  I want to qualify and run Boston by the time I’m 45.  This year the qualifying  time for the 40-45 age group was  3:15.  So, I’ve got my work cut out for me.  BUT, I have a plan!  Well, it’s the start of a plan.  This year is to get my 5K time to sub 18.  Its faster than I’ve ever ran a 5K including when I was in high school cross country.  Its an aggressive goal but I feel like the main issue I have right now is speed.  If I can get under 18 I’ll also be looking at finishing in the top of my age group.  Even when there are more than 3 people in it.

The 2020 goal is a 10K under 40 minutes

2021 is a half under 1:30.

2022 a full marathon under 3 hours.

That is the ideal progression.  Although I’m ok if the 1:30 half doesn’t happen until 2022 and the full in 2024.  But I want to be in Boston on Patriots Day in 2025 or sooner.  Its aggressive but I think its doable.

The low goals are just scaled versions of the high goals.  Pay off the consumer debt and a 5K under 20 minutes.

Then the hard part. How am I going to do this?

The financials sound easy. I plan on going out to eat less, taking my lunch to work instead of buying it in the cafeteria and reffing as much as I can.  The eating out less has the extra benefit of eating a little healthier which will help with the fitness goal.  And while I don’t make a whole lot from reffing its more than I had and definitely helps.

As for the running.

I’m actually contacting a coach to get a little bit of help with how to go about doing this and I’ve got some people at my gym, El Jefe, who are going to help hold me accountable and check on my progress as the year goes on  I’m viewing health as a part of this goal so figuring out why I’m getting sick all the time will be very important this year..

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So here is to a new year of running.  I hope that everyone has an injury free year and that you beat all of your goals, and not just the running goals.

Until Next Time…C-YA!

 

 

PR and the Finishing Sprint

I FINISHED!

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Ready to Start…Sorta

I also set a new Marathon PR.  My previous best was 6:24 at the Chicago Marathon in 2011.  Saturday, on the most perfect day for running that I can imagine, I ran the 26.2 miles in 5:20:03.  Over an hour faster than my 2011 Chicago run.

While I didn’t quite make my under 5 hour goal I’m still extremely excited about the result.

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This was a very different type of marathon than the previous ones I’ve ran.  I’ve ran the Chicago Marathon twice and the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH.  Those were much bigger races.  Chicago is one of the largest marathons in the world with around 36,000 people. The Air Force Marathon is smaller but still about 3,200 people.  Chicago is lined with people the entire coarse.  Air force isn’t as solidly lined with people but there is still a fair number and you go through a lot of neighborhoods. Both races are a lot of fun.AFM-Logo-Full-Color-No-Distances-super-small

Buckeye Marathon

The Buckeye is sparse.  Its very well staffed with volunteers and aid stations about every 2 miles.  But between the stations there is very little for most of the race.  The first 4 miles is through a nice looking neighborhood. Then there is a turn to the west and you stay on that road for the next 15 miles.  It is a road that has one main curve to the south and feels like its going through the middle of nowhere.  And its amazingly flat.  You can see for miles in all directions and see little in the way of civilization.  It kinda makes you wonder why its there.  Its a 4 lane divided road with little to nothing on it or near it.  Felt like the road that Field of Dreams inspired.if-you-build-it-1288x724

I paused my music for a little bit and just listened to the deafening silence and my shoes hitting the road for a little bit.  It was kinda nice actually.  I love running with crowds cheering and feeding of the energy of the fans yelling encouragement to people they have never met.  But there was something serene about the silence.  Very calming and peacefully.  I ran like that for about 2 miles before going back to my mix of Britney, Justin, and Pitbull.

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Me with the best support crew ever!

Ok, so more of a recap.  The first half felt amazing.  My half split was 2:22, which would have been a half marathon PR if I was running a half.  I had a small mental breakdown at mile nine, but pulled it back together to the halfway point.

Then I fell apart until about mile 17.  I just couldn’t seem to find a rhythm.  I eventually settled into an interval of .2 run and .2 walk.  The runs where still at a 9 to 10 minute pace, occasionally getting more toward 8:30.  I just couldn’t maintain it.  I tried slowing down to around a 12 minute mile but that was even worse.  Mile 22 my interval stopped working and I went to more a .25 walk and .15 run.  Every time I tried to extend the run I had very sharp pains shoot through my legs. Almost felt like an electric shock in my calves.

And then it came.  The ever elusive runner’s high.  At the Mile 24 marker I looked at my watch and knew that 5:30 was still up for grabs.  In 2 more miles I will have run my fastest marathon to date. And that triggered the endorphins.  My brain overruled my tired sore legs and I started running again.  Back in a .2 run, .2 walk.  The runs were getting down around 8:30 pace and the walks only slowed to about a 14 min mile.  Coach V was at the last turn which was about the 26 mile mark.  She said something encouraging about being almost done and joked about having a hard time keeping up because I was walking too fast.  And I basically said something to the effect of “Watch This!”

I let out a tremendous primal scream and took off at a dead sprint.  Every time I felt like my body wanted to quit I screamed again.  This was everything that was left.  I just let my sprinter brain take over and went.  I peaked out at a 3 min mile pace.  Yes, I have some speed when I want it, I used to be a sprinter.  Of course that was a short duration but still after a 26 mile warm up a 12 second 100 meter dash isn’t too bad. And if anyone reading this knew me in high school they probably aren’t surprised.

Afterward I felt great. As I said before I’m extremely happy with 5:20.  My legs where dead but I still walked over to thank the firemen and police at the finish that where helping with the event.  I changed into my post race kilt, fresh socks, different shoes, and the event shirt.  Pro Tip: Clean clothes feel amazing after a hard race like that.

Coach V took me to Texas Roadhouse for a post race steak and beer.  Possible the best steak and beer, Kiltlifter of course, I’ve had in awhile.  Of course that could be the endorphins talking.Buckeye Finish

I had a lot of random thoughts and musings including how to focus my training over the next several years.  However, I’ll save those for another time.

Until then…C-YA!