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I'm pretty unemotional about virtually everything. I like to say that I'm made of stone inside, and I attribute that to seeing things that don't relate to me, and not dwelling on them. I don't really know how to explain it, but I could watch horrible story after horrible story on the news and not really thing anything of it because it doesn't really affect my life or what I do, or who I know. Probably doesn't reflect well on me, but that's just the way it is. But the Boston Marathon bombing this year got to me.
It got to me because I know what that finish line is like. It got to me because I know what those people have put in to get to Boston (not that I have accomplished it, but I have an idea of what it entails). I know what it means to those families to see a loved one work so hard for a goal, and then realize that goal. Like I said, when I can relate to it, I feel more for it, and I certainly feel for all of the people that had their lives turned upside down by this disatrous event. The end of a race, especially the end of a marathon, is a time of unbridled joy, of masked pain, of exhaustive relief, and of incredible pride. The marathon itself is less of a challenge than the 18 weeks of training, with early morning workouts and 20 mile training runs, and thus the entire day turns into a giant party. I don't remember feeling anything other than excitement when I ran in Des Moines in October, because all the work had been done. To cap off that training, you get to go compete and give everything you have, knowing that you don't have to get up on Tuesday and go run. Then you rehash the events with your peers, and have a laugh, a banana, and a beer. That entire thrill was erased for the people that did not get to finish and their families who did not get to see that happen. And that is without mentioning all the people that now have emotional and physical damage, and well as painful memories that will no doubt haunt them forever. Families constantly having to replay the loss of life, the loss of limb, and the loss of peace within themselves and their surroundings for, well, forever. It's upsetting to say the absolute very least.
I've been behind in training because of my foot, but I think it's getting better. While my goal of a Boston Qualifier is out the window for 2013, my resolve to get my foot back and qualify for Boston ASAP is as strong as ever. I want to be there to experience the peak, but also to grind it out with survivors who have braved their own misgivings and wounded souls to venture back to the course, to the very spot, where so much was taken away from them. I want to hear stories about where they were, what they did, and let them know that even though I could in no way understand what they have been through, that I share a bond with them through a fighting spirit and a competitive drive to attempt to not let anything rattle us or get us down. Every runner out there feels the same way, no doubt, because we've all experienced that crossing of the line that brings about the warm emotions of gratification and accomplishment, and possess a sadness when we know one of our own has the opportunity taken away from them. I write with a heavy heart for all affected, I really do. I hope for nothing but the best to come out of such a horrific and thoughtless situation. Until next time...later.
So yeah, all those large expectations and goals I had placed on myself...
In my head, the ongoing battle I've been having with a moderate case of plantar fasciitis would have been resolved by now. It comes with the high-arch having territory that I occupy that I'm going to be prone to a PF bout at some point. Little did I know or could I have imagined that nearly 5 months after I ran the Des Moines Marathon that I would still be battling it to the point that I have spent more than three months not running at all in an effort to heal this injury up. You know how good not running is for your running program? It's terrible.
Basically, 2013 is going to be a wasted year, and I've accepted that. No Boston Qualifier. No PRs. Nothing. Hardly any races. Most likely no marathon. I'm skipping a 10-K this weekend because I can't put together 10 minutes on a treadmill without getting winded, let alone 10 Kilometers on concrete and asphalt. The whole situation has gone from frustrating, to upsetting, to absurd, to comical, and every other direction in which it can be taken. As recently as the third weekend of January I was cranking out 6 miles on the treadmill, sore sole and all, and felt like even though it was uncomfortable, I was going to get through it and gut it out because eventually it would just get better. But the amount of stretching, icing, resting, icing, stretching, etc. did not matter at all. It never got better. It never got worse, but at the same time I could tell that subtle changes in the way I approached a run were affecting other areas of my legs, like my knees or my hips. Finally, once February started I just decided to shut it down for good and work to try to find any remedy I could. Extra stretching sessions, walking slowly on high inclines to stretch the calf, more chiropractic sessions to loosen up problematic muscles, compression sleeves designed for the soles, and more have led me to right now, where I'm starting completely over. For real this time.
I've only got one goal in mind and that is to run and finish Hospital Hill. The 12 week program starts today, and I don't care if my foot tears in half, I'm going to finish this program and run that race. Maybe it is only because of their 40th anniversary medal, or maybe it is stupidity, but I still have it in my mind that I can finish and have a good race on June 1st. I'm down to what I consider to be a final hope for a permanent solution. I've invested in a device known to aid PF called the Strassburg Sock. It is basically like a soft splint that you wear while you sleep in an effort to keep you sole in a constant state of flex, that way the foot won't try to repair itself in a non-stretched position. The theory behind this is that the foot can heal in a stretched position, and it won't go through the motions of being torn (for lack of a better word) each morning when the first painful steps are taken. I'm giving this sock a shot, and if that doesn't work, the possibility of a cortisone shot exists. Why go to that length? Well, the part that drives me the most nuts is that while my foot is sore constantly, I know that it isn't going to get worse. My tendon isn't going to snap by running on it, and if I can find a way to mask it while running, I think I'll be in good shape. I don't know. Maybe I'm making too much out of this. As it stands, I'm simply hoping that this thing heals, and if not, I'm just going to have to toughen up, I suppose. Thanks for reading. And as always...until next time...Later.
I need to build, desperately. Taking seven weeks off with no running or exercise at all, as well as completely letting go of my sensible eating and an increase in beer drinking has put me in a pretty familiar position: the guy who doesn't want to go the gym even though all of his clothes are starting to fit pretty damn tight. That's me. That was me 3 years ago when the first silly notion of running even entered into our sphere. 2.75 years later, here I am still discussing the ups and downs of taking time off, fighting injuries, dominated and winning races, and how to be as good as you can be. I think I've had times where I've been as good as I could have been, namely, the 2011 KC Half Marathon. Other times, I've taken the easy way out, like not properly icing and stretching my hips plantar fascia like I should. If I'm going to put myself to be in a position to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I need to focus and refocus like I never have before. Knowing the goal is one thing, but executing it at the needed level is something I am unfamiliar with. I'm going to have to learn as I go, and if I don't learn enough this time around, maybe I will next time.
Like I said in the title, I feel like this is a fresh start. I've got 2137 miles under my belt in nearly 3 years of running, but I think I lost a little portion of it by taking this seven week break right after Des Moines. I was so pumped and so relieved to be finished with a tough training cycle, that I really let it out. Lots of beer drenched mornings (after working 3rd shift, remember?), lots of fried foods (had previously gone 8 months with nothing fried), etc, etc. Needless to say, when the opportunity at work arose to join a Biggest Loser type weight loss competition, I jumped at the chance. I just couldn't get myself motivated to loss this extra 15-20 pounds (depending on which scale I'm on) and this has helped me figure things out in the past regarding my nutrition, my calorie intake, and my ability to put the nose to the grindstone.
In the past, I've been able drop pounds early and then plateau later, and I would assume that to be the case this time around, but I'm working harder than ever to push down to 160. Currently, the scale at work has me at 187.5, while the scale at home has me at 174. The only one that matters in the scale at work, so I need to look at this like I have ballooned up 25 pounds since August. The good thing is I've been through this before, and occasionally have lost my way, and a little bit of a jump start usually does the trick to getting me back on track. I look at it like I've got 10 weeks to jump start into a summer of Hospital Hill and then Marathon training. It's going to be a rocky start, but there are no excuses this year. No self-limitations. Until next time...later.
So, haven't been off spouting about marathon things lately, and since I know you are all craving an update into my training process, I figured I'd try to knock out a quick post while I had the chance.
Week 7 of training for the Des Moines Marathon is in the books. Through seven weeks, 28 possible runs, I have only missed a single run, and that was due to some extenuating circumstances. I had my shoes on ready to go out the door and something came up. The important thing is that I've been able to stay healthy, and I owe it all to Hal Higdon. For the better part of two years I ignored his advice to run easy on most runs to avoid injury. As such, I routinely missed training runs because I was hurt, either with a muscle pull or a knee strain, or something. Seven weeks in, no such issues. Just hitting my four runs a week, sometimes at race pace, other times long runs, with just a slightly sore knee, but nothing that I can't get through.
Today I finished up a 14 miler with Sparky. We've made it a point to hold each other accountable throughout training, but never more so than on Sunday's when we get together for long runs. So far, the plan is working as well as could be expected. Every long run has been at or near the goal easy pace of 10:00/mile, and I'm learning all sorts of cool spots to run in the KC area. We're both bringing the jugs of water/gatorade for that insanely refreshing post run drinking session, and so far, we're both seeing the benefits. Training with a partner is the way to go, as far I'm concerned.
As a side note, last weekend I was able to win my first age group in a race by winning the 30-34 age group in the Running for Food, Running for Health 5k in Lawrence, KS. Just a little humblebrag if you will, but I was pretty excited about it. We've got a couple of Yasso 800s sessions scheduled down the road, so we'll see how those go. Looking to get an idea of the kind of shape I'm in. Thanks for reading, and until next time...later.
After some prodding, I did decide to go ahead and run another marathon. I really thought I would be finished from that distance after trudging through my first one in Orlando in January, yet here I am two weeks into the newest cycle of training, hoping to greatly improve my time from that January race. Why did I decide to give it another go? It's just one of those things, I suppose. Sparky kept saying to get ready for another one, so when Des Moines in October was presented, for some reason I couldn't say no.
Now that I've basically invested 27 straight months into learning to run, losing weight, keeping that weight off, and giving all I've got to try to improve and get faster (who would have known I'd turn hyper competitive?), I've realized I need to change up my approach for Des Moines. First off, I'm going to grow a mustache while training. Second, I'm going to not focus so much on time, and focus more on sound mechanics, running easy, running to stay healthy, and building up a better aerobic foundation. The biggest gains I am going to make at this stage is in being able to sustain long runs better, and not have the big crash at the end that is probably somewhat inevitable, but, at the same time, is probably more manageable than I'm giving it credit for being.
I want to improve a substantial amount in this race, honestly. I've given myself a goal time of 4 hours. I'm going to have to make sure I am consistent in training, not missing runs with injury, and generally taking care of myself. I've yet to determine why I consider this so important, but I'm just going with it. I mean, if I ultimately want to run the Boston Marathon, I've got to start knocking down faster miles, right? Thanks for reading, and until next time...later.
I wish it were as simple as saying that I'm not taking this lying down, but unfortunately, that is exactly what I'm doing. I don't remember if I wrote about this back in October or not, but I had a very painful episode with back spasms right after the KC Half Marathon, so painful that I pretty much laid in the fetal position in bed for three or four days, minus the times I had to drag myself to work. Such a bizarre incident that was, but I always had been more careful about posture, stretching, and lifting things to make sure that I didn't have anymore flare-ups. When it came to isolating an incident that led to such an incident, I traced it back to the extreme effort I put into that race, which was a lot. Why it hit my back so badly instead of my legs, I have no idea.
This all leads me back to Tuesday, which sucked because for the second time in six months, I was saddled with more debilitating back spasms, only this time it happened it right as I was heading down the stairs at work. That morning, I had put in a difficult hilly run. That night, back spasms. KC Half Marathon...very hilly course. Sunday after that race...back spasms. See that pattern here? I think I'm starting to get it. Why this happens when I run hills, I can't explain, but the underlying symptom that occurred both of these times involved a severely rotated pelvis to the left. Having my chiropractor beat me back into shape took about a week last time before I was up for running again. Now, I'm going to venture out after four days and two excruciating chiro sessions to hopefully partake in the Trolley Run 4 mile race in KC on Sunday.
So what is going to have to happen going forward? I have got to get stronger through my core area. That's nothing special or anything, but I have routinely neglected working on my abdominal and back area in order to just focus on running faster and/or just lifting light weights. I'm going to have to devote the time and effort into becoming stronger throughout. Also, I'm going to have to work on cross-training more frequently, as simply running, while fine, isn't really mixing up my workouts, and I'm getting lax in some areas. So, let's see how it goes. If I can't run at least close to what I normally do, I'm going to be pretty disappointed, but it's all building towards Hospital Hill 2012. Until next time....later.
Not what you think, people. If you've read this blog for any period of time, you know that I have spent the entirety of my running life (all of two years) wearing custom made orthotic inserts inside my shoes due to some high arching in my feet. I battled some plantar fasciitis back several years ago, and the podiatrist suggested wearing these orthotics to help my soles. I wore them all the time every day, and only stopped wearing them full time about the time I start running. I had never run without them, until two weeks ago.
To me, not using these orthotics was/is a risky proposition. If you've ever had a bout of PF, it is a ***. But I was having so many issues with my modified left orthotic, and it turn my left ankle/leg/calf that I knew I had to either take an extended break to let things heal up, or attempt running without the orthotics and see if my feet were able to handle it. I should probably explain why now, all of a sudden, I've been having issues with the inserts.
While training for that first half marathon, I developed a blister at the crown of the orthotic in my left shoe. I had a podiatrist look at it and see what could be done, and he made a modification consisting of raised foam padding on either side of the blister which formed a valley of sorts so that the blister would not rub on the insert anymore. For more than a year, this was a perfect remedy, but then I was feeling like I had reached the point that I did not need this foam padding anymore, and I chopped it off. That was a big mistake, as the blister had calloused over, but at this point was sort of a knot in my foot, a knot that continuously applied pressure inside my foot when struck on the ground. I had to get a second modification, and coupled with the Brooks running shoes that I had bought (with a very narrow foot base), I ended up spending the majority of my time running on the extreme outside of my foot. The orthotic plus shoe combination had slanted my foot at a large enough angle that I was no longer running with the bottom of my left foot, but almost completely on the outside of my foot.
I finally just ditched the Brooks and went with a much wider based Asics shoe, but I was having the same issues of tightness and pain in my leg. The only thing I had yet to try was to stop using the orthotic insert. I just didn't see how this was going to work, because in my mind, the only recollection I had of running WITHOUT inserts resulted in PF. To me, this felt like running naked, completely exposed to the possibility of picking up an injury that could easily linger on.
So, we're two weeks in right now and I can say that so far, I haven't had any issues crop up with my feet or calves (knock on wood) yet. Hopefully that can continue to be the case, but I have yet to put together a run of more than 5 miles. That would seem to me to be the time I need to be the most stretched out, the most aware of how my feet are feeling at the time. Things start to feel like they are tightening up, I've got to be able to stop and stretch it out or just stop all together. But so far, I can't complain.
Runner's World, as far as I can tell, has a special canned write-up that they can publish every six months or so, and it covers how a runner responds to being finished with their marathon goal after spending so much time working towards it, and how do they move on? From what they seem to gather, people hit a major funk when they finally cross that finish line for the first time, because that is written as the endgame in their mind. The obvious question for them becomes, "Now What?". What happens after the thing you've worked for months, a year, or even longer, is no longer dangling in front of you like a carrot on a string? Like I said, it sounds like most people don't know exactly what to do. Run another marathon? Well, that's probably a large mental hurdle to gear back up for, because running the first one was put on such a pedestal that you probably never considered that you'd do it again. Stop running all together? A little on the extreme side, but if you've gotten in a groove, physically, where you can find something else to take the place of running, you might not want to get back to the pavement. But what about relief? What about knowing that you can get back to the type of exercise and running that you prefer, rather than the kind you signed yourself up for?
I would fall into that last category. That marathon training was a bear. Lots of time, lots of running in the cold. Lots of icing my legs, ankles, knees, etc. That's hard. How people can do that every year is beyond me. Maybe running a race that doesn't fall in January would be easier, with more warm days and more long night hours to fit it all in. Not sure that I'll ever find out, but I'm guessing that I'll want to see if I can improve my time, using Nike shoes, eating more on the course, trying to figure out the right pace, and so forth. As it stands, I'm pretty comfortable with being able to do speed work once a week, put in an average run of 4-5 miles, and just run as a tool for keeping weight off. But the last thing I've been feeling has been some sort of emptiness. Relief is more like it. Now, I'm excited to get back to lifting weights more, and working to hit some more pace goals for the upcoming summer. Until next time ... later.
I make a lot of Pearl Jam references. Not intentionally or anything, that's just the way it goes. I've been silent, as you can see, but not for lack of activity. I actually got into a pretty steady state of making sure I was running at the appropriate times, that I lost that sense of needing to be motivated. That was how it worked at first, you know? I would write, assume I was being read, and then keep going so that whoever was out there could make sure that they saw this thing through from start to finish. While I have been absent, I have also been learning. This marathon business is not particularly fun (yet) or comfortable (why would it be?), so I did not exactly know how to cover it as things were moving forward. Now that I've got a little perspective on the matter, I can probably more accurately examine and discuss what has been happening in my little corner of the world.
There are several things I've figured out on my own from preparing for Marathon #1. First and foremost of which is there is no guarantee there will be a Marathon #2. I don't know if I ever felt that way training for that first Half Marathon, but I never seemed as overwhelmed at times as I have with this marathon training. I've had a two week break at the end of November through the beginning of December because I had thrown my entire body out of whack. Seriously, my chiropractor told me that my right side of my entire body was so tensed up it raised my hips by nearly half an inch!?! Think about that disparity in your posture, and then imagine running 6-7 miles with it. Exactly. I was really hitting a good stride, too. But, I'm at the point that the time off didn't hurt, and if anything, was probably needed. That's the most time I've had off from running in 20 months, so a little bit of extended healing was probably in the cards. I've been more proactive since then with daily stretching, posture checks, yoga, and core exercises to make sure that I'm not losing any more strength. So far it is working. I also decided to break the mold and try a new brand of shoes out during this stretch, and that has been a new experience. Probably should have just bought one more pair of Nike's and ridden the storm out, but I broke away into some Brooks (good shoes) and so far, I'm thinking that was, if nothing else, a tough thing to adapt to mentally. They're just shoes, as I tell myself, so just get over it and run.
Second, and this is probably the biggest one, is to not plan your first marathon, or really any marathon for that matter, in the winter time unless you want to run in the cold every day. Working overnights has given me two options, neither of which is great. I can get in long runs, 20-mile type runs, when I get off of work, which puts me on the pavement at around 07:30 AM right after a shift. Since I'm usually up by 03:30 or 04:00 PM, this would be equivalent to the regular day job person going out for their run at 11:00 PM or so. I'm a little tired after work, as most people, except I've already had a full day of stuff before work. It isn't a bad thing or anything, it just takes some getting used to. So, either run when I get home, or sleep and run before work, which is fine for certain runs because I can just hit the treadmill. The whole getting dark at 5:00 PM thing is a real drag as far as this is concerned. Summer and spring running when the sun is still out is going to be much easier, and that factors into the choosing a run that is either in fall, or at the end of spring, because at least that way, I'll be able to get in some evening runs outside before the sun goes down.
The third thing is that there really is no reason to be so competitive, at least right now. I can barely hit a 20-mile run without stopping every 10 minutes to walk, so how on Earth can I be so concerned about hitting a finishing time? I was, but I'm not anymore. This thing is an entirely different challenge than the Half was, because this thing never ends. During a long run prep for a Half, you can run a 12 mile run and do it in maybe 15 minutes longer than your race time will end up being. That isn't that long of an amount of time in the grand scheme of things. For this marathon, you'd have to run 25 miles to get that affect, and that's just not something you can get used to. Half's are over much quicker than you think, especially once you dip into the insanity that is marathon training. Now, 13.1 miles would be terrific, and would certainly beat knocking out an 18 miler on a Saturday, because once your finish that 18 miles and you hate your life, you only have to think that there would only be 8.2 more miles to go to finish that marathon. Then you cry a little, and then you move on. I figure if I do another marathon, I won't sweat the speed details, and will just let the training go as it goes, without trying to improve so much. I think it might just naturally happen with a little more experience as my body gets used to those 18 milers. But I guess we'll see.
We're only 10 days away from Disney, so I'll be capturing the anxiety and sheer terror more frequently until that date. Thanks for reading, and until next time...later.
Filled from the spirit of my record-setting blog traffic last week due to the Mike Wardian interview (thanks again, Mike!), I descended on Manhattan to try my hand at another 10K race. I didn't really get a chance to talk about it too much because of the interview, but I had been looking forward to this race for a while, mostly because this is the race where I had completed my first ever 10K last year. It holds a sentimental place in my mind, and I love the free Tallgrass beer at the end of the run. A cooler morning than we had been getting here in Kansas was waiting for me, but it was going to be humid.
I've been doing well in my workouts, but I was going to be held back slightly by my recent blood donation. I'm an enormous supporter of blood donation, and I like to donate when I can, but there is no denying that it takes away a nice percentage of your oxygen carrying capacity. Anyways, between that and the humidity, and the enormous hill on Anderson Avenue towards the end of the race, the prospects of me setting a personal record were not great, but I was determined to give everything I had in order to get as good a time as I could. I was on pace through the first 4 miles, but as expected, the hill in the middle of mile 5 slowed me up considerably. I tried to make up the time on the back of the hill, but it wasn't enough to even it out. I wasn't disappointed with my time, but an average mile time of 7:56/mile is not going to get me to Boston. I was happy with the improvement from last year.
It appeared that the crowds were a little bigger this year than last year, and it turned out to be the case. Last year, just over 280 people ran this 10K from Tallgrass Brewery to the Manhattan Running Company, and this year's version of the race had more than 400 people show up! Tremendous growth for the fellas over at MRC. This brings up a point that I've discussed with Sparks on a regular basis: Is running, and, more specifically, running races, becoming more popular? The addition of nearly 140 people to this race would seem to indicate that yes, people are getting into running in a way that has not been seen since the 1970s. But why? Health benefits? Competition? Low equipment fees? Who knows? Hospital Hill set a record this year for competitors, and I anticipate the KC Marathon and Half Marathon will also achieve higher numbers as well. I wonder, how many of you have signed up for a race for the first time this year? What did you think? Anyways...sort of a tangent, I know, but it appears that more competition is coming to these runs, which is great. Everyone needs to be pushed to their limits once in a while. Until next time ... later.