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!

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!

Failure and Training

I haven’t written in awhile because I was dreading having to admit this to everyone.  I mentioned in the last post that I was the swimmer on a triathlon relay team.

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It didn’t go well.  Let me start at the beginning.

The morning started well. I maybe a little more nervous than I normally am before a race, but as I usually am quick to tell people. Nervous is good.  Nervous means that you care. Nervous can help us focus and perform better.  I am more concerned when I’m not nervous going into things.

We left Coach V’s grandmother’s place in Flagstaff and went to Upper Lake Mary.  we got to the staging area. Got Coach V’s bike squared away, found Andrea, the runner, and got our timing chip.

The traditional method for a tri is swim, bike, and finally run.  So, I was up first.  I got into the wetsuit. I was told I needed due to the water temperature and it would give me some extra bouncy. Surprisingly it wasn’t to bad to get on.  I noticed right away that it was pretty tight to my neck but dismissed it as just the way these things are.

I walked to the start area  with the whole Embrace Your Pace gang that came up for the event and waited for the relay start.

When it was our turn I got in the water. submerged myself and thought this isn’t so bad.  water temp was mid to upper 60s and I was able to get off to one side so it wasn’t as  crowded.  A horn was blown and we where off.

I started off in with a freestyle stroke breathing on the third stroke until I ran into someone.  That wasn’t a big deal.  I put my head up, looked around and switched to my back more floating than swimming at that point.  But I was fine and actually thought it was kind of relaxing.

I flipped back over to swim for a little bit again and that’s when the trouble started.  On one of my breaths I took in some water and choked a little.  My lungs upon receiving the unexpected water decided.  “Nope, we are going to freak out and start an asthma attack immediately.”

Between the asthma attack, the wetsuit at my neck, and the thin air at 7000 ft I panicked.  Suddenly I couldn’t keep my head above the water, or at least that’s how it felt.  I seriously wasn’t sure I was going to make it out of that lake at point.  But one of the race volunteers in a kayak noticed my struggling and came over to let me grab ahold of the kayak and rest.

The asthma attack wasn’t letting up and without my inhaler with me I was afraid that continuing would be a bad idea, so I asked to get pulled out by the boat.  My race day was over.  I made it maybe 50 meters of the 750 meter swim.  Once on the boat I was able to get my breathing under control even before we got back to shore.  The folks on the boat where very understanding and supportive and I am grateful that they where there..  They had to take my chip so officially my team was no longer competing but they did tell me that the rest of the team should still do there events.

I was, and to an extent still am, extremely mad at myself.  I’ve NEVER not finished a race before.  Even when my back gave out at the beginning of a 200M dash in high school I got back up and finished the race, before passing out briefly from the pain.  And not only did I fail and not finish but I let the rest of my team down.  They where counting on me to do my part and I didn’t.  And its completely my fault.  I hadn’t swam seriously since high school, I’d never swan in open water, I wasn’t ready for the altitude, I hadn’t worn a wetsuit before, and I blew off training thinking that athleticism could carry me through.  My arrogance cost my team an official finish in the race and nearly cost me even more.

I’m still upset and a little pissed at myself.  But for me it seems to have come with some new determination.  Coach V and I are signing up at a pool so that I can start swimming laps and get used to being in the water.  I’m signed up for a reverse tri at the end of August.  Which means that the swim is last and its only 400M in a pool.  I’m looking into a couple of Tri sprints this fall.  A sprint basically means all the distances are shorter.  The only issue there is that I need to make sure it fits in with the marathon training.

The rest of the weekend in Flagstaff was really fun.  Went on a couple of hikes, both of which where cut short by rain.  And it was really fun seeing everyone up there and cheering the others on during the bike and run.

OK, enough about that.Rio Run 7-17

I’ve been taking training easy the past several weeks knowing that marathon training is coming.  But I’ve still been trying to make the Tuesday and Thursday morning group runs.  I got my donut key chain, which means that I made 4 weeks in a row.20180712_072538

I ran my 5th in the AZ Sunrise series this past Saturday. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I hoped.  I started having a lot of calf pain and then knee pain during the second mile and had to walk.  Every time I would test out running and get back to full stride the pain started again.  I ended running the 3.1 miles in 30:03 which is a 9:41 minute per mile pace.  Not horrible but no where near the 25 minute 5K I did in Seattle a few weeks ago.

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Once I got home and took my shoe off my fourth toe on my right foot was extremely sore and very painful if it got touched.  On further inspection I found a good sized blister had formed UNDER the toe nail.  I felt relief almost the instant I popped it and now its fine.  So, I’m blaming that for the issues on the run Saturday.  That being said Coach V, and I agree, that I should get my calf looked at.  Its been causing problems off and on all summer.

 

Last Friday we started going to a cross fit gym, EL JEFE.  Coach V prefers that sort of thing to running and I really need to work on my upper body strength.  Other than the class being at 5 am it was fun in that hard work kind of way.  They also on staff have a running coach and a in house physical therapist.  So, I’ll probably be talking to them soon.

This morning I went on a bike ride with Coach V.  Its been well documented that I am not a biker.  However, my friend Stephen loaned me a bike and after looking at the seat on it vs the seat on mine I came up with a theory.  My seat SUCKED! so I switched them.

I wouldn’t say that I loved biking this morning but it wasn’t too bad.  a good seat can make a huge difference, apparently.  Who knew?!

Finished

So, that basically catches everyone up.  The bike was day one of marathon training.  I’ll post the whole plan later since this is getting a little long already.

Next up is an “easy” 40 minute run tomorrow.  Until then…C-YA!