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Today marks exactly six months since I hopped on the treadmill at Pinnacle Fitness and started running. I've come a long ways, but there is still a lot that I don't know. Running another 8 miles today put me in position to enjoy a beautiful day, and pay attention to how my body felt. It was pretty good until the last mile.
I went out today without a particular run goal in mind. I had covered this distance a month ago, and was able to do it in an 1:10:01. With that in mind, I assumed I could improve upon that time, but was not really concerned about it. I mostly wanted to make sure that my shin was going to hold up over the distance, and that I enjoyed the sunshine and cool temperatures. I was doing exactly that, stopping for water every two miles. They have those water fountains perfectly placed out at the lake. I was enjoying a nice run until the last mile.
I might have mentioned it sometime in the past, but when I started running, I had some major foot pain on my left foot, and it seemed to be coming from what I could best describe as some sort of calcium deposit on my foot that happened to be at the pinnacle of the arch of my foot, which was being pressed with every step by the orthotic insert that I had in my shoe. Eventually I had to wear three socks on my left foot, which probably helped contribute to the myriad of muscle issues I had earlier in the summer. I have since brought it down to just two socks, one extra, and run of less than 8 miles have not been a problem. Once I hit the 10 miler last week, I was starting to feel that familiar pain in my foot. I just chalked it up to running 10 miles, which is quite the trek, and nothing more. But, today it all happened again, during the last mile.
Now I'm faced with a dilemma. Should I gut it out and keep with two socks, knowing that when I run 12 next week and 13.1 in 16 days that I'm going to be struggling with it, or ramp up the extra padding and hope that it does not affect my alignment as I think it might have in the past? I'll plan on trying three socks next Thursday for the 12 miler, and we'll see how that goes. As for Saturday's 10-K in Wamego, I'm starting to feel very confident. I do not want to set a goal time because I'm mainly running this race for some more long distance racing experience, but I'm looking to improve over the 56:29 I ran two months ago in Manhattan. I'll be sure to write about it on Saturday. Until next time ... later.
I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but considering when I went out to run this morning at 11:00 AM it was still not over 60 degrees ... I'm starting to think that maybe summer finally has ended. Of course, now I'm probably going to be wishing it was warmer every time I go outside, but at least I won't be losing 10 pounds of sweat every time I go out and run from now on.
So we're hitting the homestretch to the KC Half, and I've decided at the last minute to alter my training schedule just a little bit. This week, my long run drops down to 8 miles on Friday, but I saw this weekend while in Manhattan that there is a 10-K in Wamego this weekend, and I've been feeling like I might need another longer distance race to check out how my race pace feels, and to make sure to start out properly so that I don't burn out right off the bat. Basically, avoid all the possible pitfalls that will make running in KC a less than enjoyable experience. I'll be attempting to hit back to back 5 milers today and tomorrow, and running back-to-back has been very difficult for me lately, due to that shin splint I've been working with. But I'm icing it, and making sure to stretch out when I get a chance. And honestly, after running that 10 miler last week, it really does make running 5 not seem too bad. It's strange, I know, but the overall improvement in my fitness has been so startling, I really have to question why I wasn't doing this years ago. At least I could have been racing at the beginning of my age group instead of at the tail end.
Now, let's get to today's run. All things considered, this could be the second best run I've ever had. After the weekend in Manhattan, it is always a dicey proposition to go out and run on Monday. Between the beer, the AJ's Pizza, the steak, the Vista, and all the Dr. Pepper, I've basically put myself at a disadvantage right off the bat. The carbonation will kill, as I've written about before (Here). But, I also needed a jolt of confidence today, because I was still exhausted from said weekend, and I just did not know if I had much in me to go out and run. With the Nike iPod, I went ahead and decided to set a run timer of 42 minutes, which would put me at a pace of 8:24/mile, a nice run. I like that the Nike Plus system will tell you time elapsed as you run, that way you have an idea of how your run is going. I busted out of the start like I was on a mission, as shown by that first mile time of 7:53, a little too fast for me at this point. But, with a good start like that I was able to take a slightly extended walk break at the 3 mile mark. As I'm finishing up, I end up crossing the line at 40:59, a pace of 8:12/mile. I was side stitching like crazy, and breathing as hard as I can remember, but that is the type of run I needed to make myself feel a little better about my training. Hopefully I can control my shin pain enough to go out and do hills tomorrow, and if not, well, I guess I don't.
Also, sort of a side note, but I wanted to give a shout out to my coach, Coach Terra Jones, who has decided, after watching me and Sparks get into such terrific shape, to go out and buy herself some running shoes and is planning on becoming a runner as well! Good for her, and if she can pull it off, it just becomes more proof that anyone can pick up and start running. So, give her some good luck tweets at @pujolsrawks on Twitter. Until next time ... later.
This is not going to be a post about the legendary debut album by Pearl Jam, but it definitely could describe my run today. Just because the focus is not going to be on Pearl Jam does not mean I'm not going to weave them into today's post, so here goes. I'm going to attempt to relate the tracks on Pearl Jam's "Ten" album to my 10 mile run from this morning.
"Once" - Once upon a time, I could control myself. I've been running slightly banged up, and I've been overly concerned about how to compensate for it. Today, I had to focus on being so tight, and just run loose. I think that the concern and worry about how my pain would flair up caused me to become pretty rigid, and once I just relaxed, I was able to just run. So, no need to control things too much, I just let them happen.
"Even Flow" - Thoughts arrive like butterflies. When you have such a long time to run, 93 minutes and 14 seconds worth of time today, you can drift off. Check out the lake, where I ran today, watch other people and their dogs, try to figure out if you should get pizza after the run or not. It's nice.
"Alive" - I'm still alive. I won't get all corny on you and say that running makes you feel alive, but it certainly does make you feel. Pain, satisfaction, energy, exhaustion, and sweat. Damn, you feel the sweat. At least I do.
"Why Go" - Why go home? To recharge, to ice, to lay back down, to replenish. I did all of these things within about an hour of finishing today. I've got to say, that period of time when you are done and know that you do not have to run again for a couple of days is pretty nice.
"Black" - I'm spinning. I'm going out for a long run, with only three weeks away from the big KC Half, and I can't tell if I'm nervous, or excited, or just ready to run the thing and see where the chips may fall. It will be so much easier to run with a crowd than plod through these miles by myself.
"Jeremy" - Lemon yellow sun. Arms raised in a V. I don't want to say that this is how I picture finishing the race when it is all said and done, but it will certainly be nice to have it finished, and to feel that rush of having actually gone out and run 13.1 miles.
"Oceans" - Please stand by the shore... I'm going to have a modest cheering section for me in KC, but I appreciate all the hits and reads that people do every day when I link this blog at Twitter and at unwind.topeka.net. I need that support, and I need people to keep reading, otherwise I feel I will start to slack. If I've got an audience keeping me in check, I have no worries about easing up.
"Porch" - Hear my name. Take a good look. This could be the day. Someday, who knows, maybe I'll be qualifying for Boston. And if you are there, you could hear them announce it. That's quite a long ways out, though. But stay tuned...
"Garden" - I will walk with my hands bound. I might be holding my iPod, I might be drinking some water, but walking has certainly played a large part in my ability to complete these long runs. Today, I only got 4 walks in, when normally I would have called for 5. Just a one minute walk, but my legs appreciate it, and it is nice to break it up.
"Deep" - In too deep, yeah, oh, can't touch the bottom. I think I'm just scratching the surface of running here. It is tough, but it is very rewarding. I'm still at 176 pounds, but I consider that a win considering how much I've enjoyed tailgating so far this football season. I plan on continuing to run after this race.
"Release" - I'll hold the pain. Release me. I know I'm going to be spent, and I know that I'm going to hurt, and I know that it'll take days to recover, but I also know that I'm going to have a great time, I'm running this race with some great friends, and it'll just be one step along to way to me keeping up my weight loss and getting fit.
OK, so that's it. Thanks to Eddie for the help, and until next time ... later.
The worst thing I could have ever done was discover the link on this blog that allows me to look at the blog "stats", such as page views, traffic, and location. All I know is someone in Denmark appears to be a frequent visitor to the site, so that's awesome. Maybe I'll run a race in Copenhagen someday. Also, somebody found the blog in Poland by Google searching the phrase "Fat Latvian Guy"! That, to me, is hilarious.
Anyways, enough small talk about the stupid things that crack me up. Let's talk hills. The course for the KC Half is going to be hilly. Kansas City is just a hilly town. Through the first four miles of this race, there will be a couple of different uphills, including one that is very steep. In order to prepare for these, I have been hitting one of the steepest, hill-filled areas in Topeka, out in the Southwest part of town. I have only done this area once, and it felt very tough. But I had only set out to improve a little bit each time so that tackling those hills would not be too terrible. Last time, I ran 4.5 miles, and I did so in pace of around 9:12/mile. Not bad for the first time out, but I could not tell if this would be something that would always be very difficult, or if it would be something that I could adapt to. I got my answer today, after sweating off about 30 pounds thanks to the never-ending humidity in this state. The biggest hill is a half mile stretch around the 2 mile mark that is as steep as anything you'll see in KC, at least a 12% grade. On the flipside, it makes it easier to make up time when you run back down that hill, and it evened out today. I was able to cover the 5 mile run today in 45:04, so a nice pace of 9:00/mile, shaving 12 seconds off my previous pace. Pretty happy with that. I have already iced my shins, and I'm just going to have to live with the fact that they are going to be sore, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to stretch the *** out of them and continue to ice them. Longest run every coming on Friday as I hit my first double digit run, 10 miles. I'll also have a weight update since that was sort of the whole purpose of picking up running. But I will say that with several straight weekends of tailgating and beer-drinking, and eating some super awesome food, I'm sort of praying that I will have just maintained my weight and not put anymore on. Guess we'll find out. Until next time ... keep reading Denmark!
We're not talking indie rock here today, we're talking my actual shins. As in, the possibility of shin splints. Who would have thought that just running around for a couple of months would expose how old and truly brittle my entire body has become? It's a little bit disheartening, but so far, nothing has been so bad that I've stopped, so maybe I'm just a glutton for the punishment. I've solved at least half of my left leg issues with my IT Band fix, but it took another trip the chiropractor today to help figure out what is going on with the rest of my leg.
If your shin hurts, and it is because you run, what else could it be besides shin splints? I was hoping for something other than shin splints, but that seems to be the preliminary diagnosis. Lots of tension at the top of my lower left leg, just below the knee, and again down by the ankle. I wouldn't have thought of shin splints because, frankly, my shins do not really hurt. But clearly my knowledge of the subject is very small, because apparently it can happen around any part of the tibia, not just the front part we call the shin. After some deep and torturous muscle relaxing techniques, I will say that it feels better, but the better judge will be how I treat it tomorrow on my hill run. Again I ask that if you see me running on the side of Wanamaker, do not hit me with your car.
As for yesterday, I had a terrific 5 mile trek, even though my leg was acting up ever so slightly. I did figure out that if I really focused on that even stride, I was able to sort of mask the pain and maintain a good pace. Of course, we have moved back into summer, so even though I was up and running at the horrific time of 7:30 AM, I ended up drenched in sweat due to the humidity and sun. This is getting ridiculous, by the way. Just cool off and stay that way, please. I did not really have a set goal for a time, but I did notice that it seems to be a lot easier to run 5 miles after you run 9. Must be that whole "4 miles less" thing on the run. We'll see how the hill run goes tomorrow, as I have a previous pace I will use to see if I've made any improvements. So, until next time ... later.
I didn't realize that there was a spot in this blog that allows you to track where people have read or, at the very least, have opened up the blog. A lot of that is through Twitter, which was sort of the plan, but nonetheless, it is interesting to see how far the internet can travel through the magic of hashtags. So, welcome South Africa and Japan, and kick back and read about how sore I am from running on Friday.
I'll take you back to my left leg issue. After running on Tuesday, I thought I would not be able to walk again. I had not been in so much pain since I started running, and I was pretty concerned that this would be some sort of ailment that would not allow me to continue proper training for the KC Half. A spur of the moment trip to my chiropractor hopefully would help me alleviate some of the pain and maybe get to the bottom of this issue. After describing what was going on, Dr. Stacy explained to me that I most likely was dealing with Iliotibial Band Syndrome. After a half hour of agonizing torture (just kidding ... sort of), I felt like a new person. I was able to walk, which was a big plus. I was armed with some ideas for stretching, icing, and resting, which hopefully would allow me to continue training like I want. But just because I was feeling good did not mean that my run would be good.
I started Friday with a nice tweetup at the Subway on Wanamaker and 29th, complete with free breakfast courtesy of a Foursquare checkin. It was a nice start, and I figured I would need the energy to last through my longest run yet. I made sure to stretch for a long while, because I really did not want to have any lingering issues, especially in regards to my IT Band. One thing I'm going to have to work on is running earlier (gross) in the morning, because when it starts to warm up, it can be pretty draining. I didn't start running until after 9 AM on Friday, and after a run of 1:21:21, it was getting pretty steamy. I tried to keep it nice and slow to start, making sure that all the moving parts were doing ok. After hitting mile 2, I picked it up, and everything still felt pretty good. The most difficult part remaining, I thought, was just to try to figure out where the 4.5 mile mark would be in order to turn around. It turns out it somewhere past Kansas Avenue, so I really felt like I was out in the middle of nowhere. It was a little intimidating. I think for long runs I'm going to stick with the lake, mostly because I don't know too much about the area I'm running to. By the time I got done, I think I had probably gone close to 9.25 miles, due to the need for a calibration I'm seeing on my Nike Plus sensor. For example, at the 3.25 mile mark, it had said I had just hit 3 miles. And no, I did not miscount (I don't think). Side note, I know, but I think it is worth mentioning. Anyways, since I've been treating my leg better, I'm hoping to be able to get back into my normal routine of running Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday. I guess we'll find out. Until next time ... later.
If you are seeing this on unwind.topeka.net, I would file this under a "Can't Miss" type blog post, so feel free to forward it or re-tweet it if you would like. I thought I would take today in a slightly different direction. Since the whole mantra of this blog started off to be a regular guy taking up running and changing for the better, I've wanted to include some stories of other regular folks who decided to do the same thing. I figure by putting it in a more down to earth light, the casual reader who stumbles on this blog might see that they too can start exercising, eating right, lose weight, and feel immense personal satisfaction.
Today I am featuring an interview with a good friend of mine named Brian Sparks. I have referenced Sparky in the past as "the dude I'm running the KC Half Marathon with", but we go back quite a few years to when we were both students at K-State. We still tailgate together during football season, so it has been nice to be able to have someone to keep me motivated. Sparks has been running a little longer than I have, and is really one of the main reasons I have become so involved in running, as I try to keep up with the extended workouts he has set. In the future I will include a new interview here and there with other people who decided it was just time to get to work, just to show that anyone can decide that if they want to change, there are regular non-athletes out there that have done it. So now I give you my first interview with Brian Sparks.
1. TFGIR: How long have you been running, and how long did you think about starting?
Sparks: I remember we were throwing around the idea of running a half marathon last football season. Not quite sure how we got on that topic in the first place, but I'm glad we did. So in February of this year, I joined the gym and I have been running ever since.
2. TFGIR: What prompted you to become dedicated to running and improving your fitness?
Sparks: Like everyone else in the America, you set your New Year's Resolution to lose weight, so you get a gym membership and start working out and try to walk right on by the snack food aisle at the grocery store and month later you don’t go to the gym and you are back to your same old ways. This year I didn't want to be just another failed New Year's resolution. I really wanted to make a change in my life. I signed up for a gym membership in February. My first day back in the gym, I stepped in thinking I was still able to lift the same amount of weight I was able to while playing high school football. Boy was I wrong. After that first workout I was sore for the next week, but I went back three more times that first week because there was something that just clicked in my brain saying "This is awesome. This is what I need." Shortly before I set my goal of running the KC Half Marathon, a couple friends had signed up to do the 3 day walk in San Diego. My initial thoughts were "That was awesome. Why can’t I do something cool like that, too". So I said why not and I made the commitment to myself to run a half marathon.
3. TFGIR: What changes in your daily life have you made to help you in this decision?
Sparks: Not much has changed overall. I still like to go out with my friends, watch TV, all of the typical things young adults do. Although running is a very time consuming activity, I don’t see it as a "waste of time" because it is something that I have come to enjoy and it is all part of my ultimate goal to get fit and stay healthy.
4. TFGIR: What accomplishments have you achieved during your turnaround, i.e., weight loss, improved strength?
Sparks: I have been amazed at what running has done to me. I've lost almost 60 lbs since I started running, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. My original weight lose goal was 80 lbs but why stop there? I have a lot more energy which equals the ability to run faster and farther increasing the ability to further lose weight.
5. TFGIR: How do you keep from having exercise or running burnout?
Sparks: I find running has been a great form of stress relief after a full day at the office. I have somehow found the ability to really "zone out" while running. No worries, no stress, no cares in the world. When I get in that zone, running just comes so naturally, like I've been doing it for years. I rest when I need to, but still push myself enough to go father and faster on each and every run.
6. TFGIR: What are some futures goals you have set out to achieve?
Sparks: Through some of our previous conversations, Kyle, you would like to try to run the moon! (Editor's Note: I am on record as wanting to qualify for the Boston Marathon and do a Triathalon, and maybe run two full marathons in 3 months.) Realistically I think it would be fun to run a full marathon, definitely more 1/2 marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, etc. Qualifying and running in Boston would be an amazing accomplishment, and I know we've talked about it, so that has been placed on the radar down the road. Also, continue to lose weight.
7. TFGIR: What motivates you?
Sparks: You Kyle, You! No really after a long run the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, the “runner’s high” leaves such a good feeling. It is so awesome. I try to use that as motivation for that next run.
PSA = Public Service Announcement. If you go to the lake, any lake, do not treat the ground as if it is your own personal trash can. They have ACTUAL TRASH CANS for you to use. I would imagine 99% of the people that would read this would feel the same way I do, but there is 1% of the people in this world that have no respect for things such as a park that everyone uses. So, if you are having a birthday party out at a lake, don't throw your silverware, plates, cups, and extra food on the ground ... throw it away. Stop treating the lake like your house.
Now that I've got that off of my chest, let's talk running. I'm worried, because my left leg injuries are popping up again. I've got a strain on the outside of my left ankle, and a strain on the outside/back of my left knee. It is not a pulled muscle or anything like that, but more of a ligament strain. I cannot figure out if it is my new shoes, or if subconsciously I have altered my running stride into something that is unnatural, or if maybe it is just running on back-to-back days, but something is definitely not right. I ran a nice 4.5 miles yesterday, so a follow up 3 mile run was in the cards for today. I should have stopped right away. After the first few steps I took I was already in pain. But I decided to gut it out, which I am seriously regretting. If I had just taken today off, tomorrow's hill run would have been attainable, I believe, but now I'm probably going to have to wait until my long run on Friday and give myself two days off in order to be ready for 9 miles. I don't know if I should be frustrated yet, or just be cautious, but I'm definitely in a wait and see mode. Until next time ... later.
And they are good. All the way around, in fact. We'll start with me. I had been working pretty hard to achieve a personal best for the 5-K, especially with the Half Marathon coming up, because I wanted a little bit of momentum for the next month of training. Spending my shorter runs during the week to work on speed training has been paying off in my mind, but I had not had a chance to apply it during a race. Today was a great opportunity to go for a new personal record, with a nice cool temperature, a flat course, and shade trees galore.
This race was to benefit breast cancer awareness, so after the balloon release, it was go time. I take you back to my first 5-K in May. I didn't know what to do to run a race. Didn't know what a bad idea it would be to try to run with the group when you are not ready for that sort of pace. Did not know not to wear too many layers when it isn't completely freezing out. Did not know not to overeat before you run. Now that I've got a little experience with these races, I think I've ironed out the kinks, but I had not run a race where I was completely bought into the idea of running as hard as I could the whole time. I had a feeling I was going to have a good run when my first mile time was 8:10, nearing the best mile time I can remember having. That flat course was terrific to run on, by the way. To get to it, I was able to post a 24:22 (!) for a personal best by over 2 full minutes. Pretty happy with that, obviously, and going into KC, I think anything is possible in terms of my time. Full results are available Here.
My running partners also were up and ready to post some good time. Sparks, the dude I'm running the Half Marathon with, posted his personal best by over 6 minutes. My little sister came close to going under 30 minutes, her stated goal, but was damn close to hitting it, improving on her time from last year by over 3 minutes. It really is a good story, and really pretty amazing, that two guys can go from never running to shaving minutes upon minutes off of their personal best just by running over the course of a summer. I hope that if you read this and are considering running, you seriously consider it because it really is easy if I can do it. I'm lazy, but now I feel like I want to improve so that I'm making it worth my time. I hope you are following along, because the next month is going to be nuts. Until next time ... later.
Don't have too much time today, but the race is tomorrow, the Washburn Breast Cancer 5-K. Should be a good time, and I've heard that nearly 1400 people are signed up! Most of them walkers, but that will be a nice group, with some great support for a great cause. Hoping to go under 25:30 with my time, but with that many people, it will be tough. Hope for the best, and I'll check in after the race.