Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Probably Gonna Be "Just Okay" At The Garmin Half Marathon

45 has not gone as planned.  After my "victorious" exit from the 40-44 year old age group in December, I fully expected to take the 45-49 year old's by storm ... wa-wa-waaaaaammmmppp (game show loser sound effect).   To this point, pretty much what I've experienced is one setback after another.  And in about 10 days at the Garmin Half Marathon, we'll find out if those challenges took their expected toll on my race result ... or if maybe I was able to power through to a nice finish.  At this point, I'm really not expecting great things, but hopefully it won't be a disaster either.

After several races over the past few years, I've started to kind of figure out my body.  And with that, very few finish line times at an event really surprise me.  I usually know if it's gonna be a nice run, or if I'm gonna struggle to keep pace.  And as I sit here and think about Garmin, I imagine I'll probably be around 1:28-1:29.  A few years ago I would've done a back-flip with those times.  But based on my marathon PR, and my splits during training, I really feel like I should be closer to a 1:25 runner, which was my original goal for this race.  But that is definitely not going to happen.

Last year seemed to be the perfect year of running.  I trained with almost no setbacks, was injury free, and everything just seemed to fall perfectly into place.  But so far, this year has been a complete 180.  Like most folks, I've really struggled with the winter weather.  I could just never get in a rhythm with running outdoors.  Plus, I got sick for the first time in about 6 or 7 years ... a 3-4 week bronchial thing, right in the middle of training, that I just couldn't seem to kick. That was definitely the biggest hurdle.  Also, work presented new challenges.  I've been busier than ever, and several early morning meetings and unusual travel schedules have made me readjust over and over.  And finally, we've recently had extended family health issues that are first and foremost in our mind.  I'm pretty stressed and worried over a few different things going on with people I love, especially the birth of my second grandchild, any day now.  Of course I'm excited, but it's my baby girl giving birth to her baby girl.  So I'm like any grandfather, I'm really eager to meet that little sweetie ... but really concerned about my own daughter and her well being.  I'm probably guilty of letting little things become "excuses" for me during training.  And at the end of the day, this is just running ... just running.  And if I don't get to train like I want because of life, and real issues, it's gonna be okay.  But this training session has simply had challenges that didn't allow me to fulfill the high demands that were required to run the time I had targeted.

Am I in good shape right now?  Yeah, pretty good.  But for me to run a sub 1:25, I needed to be in great shape, which I am not.  But I've tried to push through the training as much as possible, and hopefully I'll be in the top 5 of my age group at Garmin.  But if I'm not, it will probably refocus me for my summer training, and the main event in the fall ... The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, where I'll make my first real run at 3:00.  But for now, the Garmin Half Marathon will be a good measuring stick, and a benchmark for the rest of my 45 year old days.  Have a great week!
... be great today!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stop Stressing, It's Not A Fracture

Every time I write a blog that's health related, I inevitably get a couple of private emails or comments from folks in the health care industry, and even doctors, debunking what I've theorized or shared.  So I fully embrace that possibility with today's post, because as you've gathered by now ... I'm not a doctor.  But it occurred to me on my hill workout this morning that pretty much 100% of the "running injuries" I've struggle with over the years (which are very minimal, knock on wood) have been related solely to muscle tightness, and nothing else ... NOTHING!

I think of myself as a fairly tough guy.  I mean, of course I'm not as "tough" as any of the Pillsbury Dough Boys I work with who played high school football a hundred years ago, thus qualifying them for "bad-ass status", and "know everything about all sports" for the rest of their lives ... but I get by. Sarcasm.  But my wife will attest that I typically respond to any new pain from running like Fred Sanford ... "Oh no, THIS is the big one ... I'm coming Elizabeth!"   But then usually the pain subsides and I'm fine for another 2,000 miles or so.

Take this week for example.  I had a really good long run on Saturday, but during the two recover miles, the top of my left foot starting hurting directly behind the big toe.  I hurt with every foot strike.  It hurt so much it made me limp, and eventually stop a couple of times.  The pain remained throughout the day, and even hurt the next morning when I woke up.   Like a dummy, of course I tried running on it again for a recovery run, and it really flared up.  I stopped my recovery run after about 3 miles and walked back home, with the thing killing me with every step.  My immediate self diagnosis ... I of course had a stress fracture!  Which was the perfectly logical and rational conclusion I should have come to considering I've NEVER had a broken bone of any kind.  Again sarcasm.

So I did what I always do when the latest ache and pain shows up ... I began looking at muscle diagrams of the legs on the internet.  I immediately noticed that many of the calf and "shin" muscles were directly connected to the area that was giving me trouble.  So, I began stretching the area and rolling & massaging them out.   And wouldn't you know it ... the area felt great today!  Just like that, my "stress fracture" was gone!

I don't mean to make light of actual stress fractures and structural damage ... of course they are real and cause a lot of runners a lot of problems.  And of course, I WOULD NOT do what I do - if you feel like there's an issue, go see your doctor.  But so far it's just been my experience that area reflecting the pain is typically not the area causing the pain.  It's usually caused from tightness from a larger muscle pulling on the area and creating an issue.  That of course way over simplifies it, but whether it's been IT Band, upper hamstring, groin, knee or heel pain - I've always been able to isolate the connecting muscle or muscle group and get myself back to normal.

So anyway, once again I freaked out over some running pain for nothing.  Today's hill workout went well, and I should be good for a few more strides.  And with that, let the "Jim, you know you're a little careless with your medical advice" begin.  Have a great week!
... be great today!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Slowly I Turn

I think I'm getting back in shape.  And I think today was evidence of that.  I say "I think", because I still have a lot of work to do.  But I had a pretty good hill workout on Tuesday, a nice 10 mile recovery run yesterday, and then a fairly productive Temp Run/Race Simulation this morning in Omaha, NE.

I warmed up with two slow miles, and then stopped and stood around at the corner of 13th & Howard - by the Tour Bike Depot - for about 3 minutes to simulate the starting line at a race.  Then I simulated a race start for 5 miles, stopped, and then ran a final sixth mile at 5K pace, before two final cool down miles.

Downtown Omaha is fairly hilly, and even though I had a couple of one mile climbs of 100 ft during the workout, I tried to avoid the really large hills for this run.  Overall I held pace fairly well without pushing it too much. And on a flat course, I think I could have eased into a 6:20 or so without too much trouble at all.

The biggest problem right  now is I need to get my diet back under control.  Plus, I'm really struggling to keep up my core program.  I'm still doing it about 3-4 days per week, but have slipped a little more than I need to, and it's really showing up late in runs with poor posture.

But all in all today's run was a good morale booster.  I'm still not anywhere close to where I wanted to be for this upcoming race, but hopefully I won't be an embarrassment.  Hope your week is going well!
... be great today! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Everything's Gonna Be Okay ... Baseball's Back!

I looooove running, but baseball ... well baseball's different.  Baseball's always been a part of my life.  It's my biggest passion, and part of my fiber.  And all winter long, I painfully endure the snow, the cold, and the empty stadiums, knowing that one day soon things will be better. And that day is here ... Opening Day!  My team?  The Kansas City Royals of course!  Yes, we're usually near the bottom of the League in the final standings.  But one of these years we'll climb back to the top and regain our once proud position ... and maybe that's this year.  But never mind that ... because for now, baseball is back, and everything's gonna be okay!!!
... be great today!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring "A" Race In Serious Jeopardy

Like most bloggers, I try to be fairly transparent and communicate what I'm really feeling leading up to races.  If you've read for a while, you know I can be a little "confident" before a big run, but I also try to be completely forthcoming when my performance at an event is in doubt.  The upcoming Garmin Half Marathon, my Spring "A" race, would fall into the latter of those two.  With everything going on during this training cycle, I just don't think I'm probably gonna hit my goal times.

I'm still getting over this stupid bronchitis or whatever, and coughing for most of the day.  Plus, now the pollen level is sky-rocketing in Lee's Summit, so I've been battling that as well.  Mix in the non-cooperative weather for this time of year, and I'm just not getting the quality workouts I need before a run like this.

This morning's run was fairly good indicator of where I'm at right now.  At first glance, the paces look decent - about 6:40 average over 9 miles.  The problem is, I stopped about 4 times during that stretch for water and to take a gel.  I really don't think I could have held that pace without stopping.  And for this race, I actually wanted to be averaging about 6:25 for 9 miles in a run like this.  So I really feel like I'm behind schedule.

The Garmin Half Marathon is on April 26 ... exactly four weeks from today ... and I've still got A LOT of work to do.  For a race like this, I would really like to be peaking next week, but that's not gonna happen.  Now that I'm off of my prescribed drugs, I think I'll have three good weeks of workouts, and then take a really laid-back rest week before the run.  I think I can still build some fitness in those three weeks, but it's just not where I wanted to be.

I'm definitely not "throwing in the towel" on this one.  There are a lot of things I can accomplish at Garmin despite all of the setbacks.  This training has been a good springboard into the summer training.  The race will be a blast since it's here in Kansas City,  And plus, I'd still like to win my Age Group for the first time in the new 45-49 Old Man Division, and I think I've got a somewhat realistic shot at that based on previous year's times.  But the 1:25 personal best I'd targeted last year for this race is 100% out of the question.  But we'll see what happens otherwise.  Have a great weekend!
... be great today!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Am I The Only Idiot That Hates Vacation?

This week has been magical!  I mean just look at that sun, the surf, the sand, the warm breeze and all the full service you can expect from a wonderful resort in the Bahamas ... and I'm not there ... YES - YES - YES!!!  No vacation for me.  Somehow I conned Michael into going with her girlfriend Michelle, and I got to stay home with my good buddy Jack, and just couch it!

Yes, I know that the following statements will put me in the bottom .00000001% of the population but ... I HATE VACATION!!!  It's soooooo boring and drives me crazy after like 2 days.  I mean, let's break this down and look at it as pragmatically as possible.  All you do is sit in a chair, on the sand, staring at the water, in the middle of nowhere (often in a country with far inferior sanitation and infrastructure than your own)  for like 327 straight hours, getting burnt to a crisp.  Then, you pig out at the World's biggest buffet or whatever, with local cuisine that is sometimes a little sketchy, or else with every decadent treat known to man, and drink way too much alcohol.  There's no cell phone service.  Typically no internet.  Very little, if any TV.  And almost nothing to do except watch the waaaaay-too-affectionate-newly-weds coo'ing and gaga'ing over each other on the beach, while periodically disappearing, presumably a quick trip back to their room.  And don't get me started on the cat-sized mosquitoes.  All of this for a huge chunk of my savings I worked hard for all year!!!!

Nope - nope - nope!  Not for me!  I have no problem with my wonderful wife making the trip with a girlfriend.  And I'm lucky enough to have a marriage where we both enjoy doing things on our own from time to time.  So this week ... while she's soaking in her beloved overpriced rays on the beach ... I'll just be kickin' it at home.  With plenty to keep me busy.  For free.  Boring old man - out!
... be great today!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SUCK IT Sickness ... I'm Back!!! (Sorta)

First some GREAT news this morning  ... my daughter Madison officially got hired yesterday as a full-time Fourth Grade teacher in the Lee's Summit School District for next year!!!  It's her first big-girl grown up real job.  I'm so excited for her and of course proud of her.  I know many people say this about their kids, but it's true about Madison - ha ... the young lady literally lights up the room and changes everyone for the better that she comes in contact with.  She is just an amazing person and can do whatever she wants in life.  I love her so much and am so happy she got the job she wanted after all her hard work!

It was amazing how much attention my last post received about a recent trip to the clinic and the volume of prescribed medication I left with.  Equally amazing is how my wife is always right.  She read it when I first put it online and immediately remarked, "You're gonna stir up a hornets nest with this one!"  I looked at her, probably rolled my eyes or did that dismissive "ppffsssttt" sound thing, and said, "No it won't, it's just a little story about the clinic!"  Me wrong.  Michael right.  All too often the scenario in our house.

But I've moved on, taken my medicine - literally (but not all of it) - and feel much better.  I even started slowly working out this week, but mostly indoors to avoid the Antarctica like ... ALMOST APRIL ... temps outside.  Actually it's not that bad, just somewhat below normal.  But I still don't want the cold air on my lungs for a while.  So I ran my last two runs on the treadmill.  Here was today's Tempo Workout ...

     2 mile warmup @8:20 & 7:50
     1 mile @7:05/pace
     5 miles @6:25/pace 
     1 mile cool down @8:30/pace

It definitely didn't set the world on fire, and albeit on the treadmill, it was nice to build a little speed again and sustain it for a few miles without hacking up half of my right lung.  So anyway ... down for a while ... but surely not out ... SUCK IT SICKNESS!!!  I won today!!!
... be great today!