Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ten Feet Off of Beale

I've been anticipating this post for a long time. Long before I ever got hurt. It's finally time to make the proclamation and change the title of this blog.

I'm going to Memphis, God willing, to run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. A year ago Joe and I had talked of keeping our annual early December tradition alive. This will be year three. Tecemseh (IN) in 2006, Huntsville (AL) in 2007, now Memphis (TN) in 2008. (and trust me I've already scouted out possibilities for 2009.)

I've mentioned the plan, the physical therapy, the orthotics; now its time to draw the line in the sand. Thanks to my uber supportive wife. Memphis is on the books. That was my birthday present a few weeks back. Many probably already suspected it was.

Lisa is so supportive of my goal to run 50 states. She probably wants it for me as much as I want it for myself. I've learned to be careful what I mention around her. Give her an inkling of an idea, be it a trip, a party, whatever, and in no time flat she's made all the necessary arrangements. She sent in my registration, booked my hotel and made my flight reservations. All I have to do is show up. And run.

I'm going to stick with my low mileage plan to have the highest assurance possible of getting to the starting line. So this time around there won't be any speedwork, not that there ever was much, and there won't be many sub 8:00 miles, but it will sure be sweet crossing that finish line in Memphis.

How does "Twelve Down - Training for Tennessee" sound?

Then I'm running in Memphis;
Was running with my feet ten feet off of Beale.
Running in Memphis.
But do I really feel the way I feel?

* a little creative license taken

Sunday, July 27, 2008


First off, let me say how much appreciate all the comments and concerns on my comeback. It is very cool to know that there is this great community of people out there keeping tabs on the progress. I really am trying to play this round of training smart and cautious.

The schedule I've chosen is based on the schedule for my first marathon back in 2004. I prepared for that one with a local running group. The buildup assumed a limited base and no prior marathon experience. I figured starting back at "square one" was a wise idea considering the three months off and increased likelihood of reinjury if I took things too fast. As added assurance I took the original plan at 5 days a week and modified it to only 4 days a week. This modification will keep my weekly mileage on the low side throughout the cycle. My highest mileage week will only be 34 miles. Low mileage by any traditional plan, but the goal here is to finish state 13 healthy and able to run 37 more some time in the future.

I've had my heart set on running the Memphis St Jude Marathon in December. Clearance to run again in June coincided perfectly with the 26 week beginner plan to get me there. When I got started I had no idea if I would get there and it's still not guaranteed, but I had to have a plan. When it comes to running, I am a stickler for the plan. Once I've committed it to paper I do everything in my power to get there.

This week, week 8 of the plan, was somewhat of a milestone week. I ran a long run of 10 miles for the first time and had weekly mileage of 20! I'm happy to report that the 10 miler went smoothly and my leg actually feels better than it has in awhile (knock on wood!).

I ran Jesse's Loop with the CA Cruisers. We met at Hillcrest Park and then ran all over God's green acre, Fullerton. I used an 8:1 run:walk technique. That pace kept me in the middle group. Thankfully the lead group would stop periodically to regroup. This route has many twists and turns. We ran on roads, trails, through a tunnel, down an abandoned railway, and around a lake. Finally returning to the park. I used my watch only to track the running and walking segments.

The rest of the week:

M - upper body workout with the personal trainer
T - 4 miles - Bonelli picnic loop 2x +
W - Yoga
H - upper body work and 3 miles on the equestrian trail in VV.
F - Rest
S- 10 miles - Jesse's Loop
S - 3 miles - out the front door for 15 minutes and back again

Total miles = 20.

Later today I will hit the gym again. Tomorrow the personal trainer will give my legs a work out. I'm still seeing the physical therapists but have cut that down to once a week after consulting with them on my progress. The next few weeks will alternate between step back weeks and slowly ramping things up. Let's see how it goes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rolling Along

Last week went off pretty much without a hitch as far as running goes. I stuck to the schedule pretty much as written. This was my third week with four runs and I still haven't broken 20 miles for the week. I did move Tuesday's 3 miler to Wednesday to accommodate Mexican food with friends on Tuesday.

The shin continues to hold up. There is sometimes a soreness in the calf muscle near the bone. It is less severe than before and somewhat lower on the leg. It comes and goes. I'm attributing many of the little aches and pains to re-entry into the running mode. The sensation, I don't want to call it a pain, comes on during the jumping exercises I do at the physical therapy as well. They seem to be somewhat at a loss on how to make it go away completely. I will continue to run, carefully and wisely. But I do have to admit that the intermittent aches and pains are wearing on me mentally. Whatever!

The week went down like this:

Wed - 3 miles Via Verde equestrian trail (after Yoga class)
Thurs - 3 miles on my part of my old standard 5 mile loop on the Bonelli trails - that run was fun but boy was I slow (have I said this before, 8-))
Sat - 9 miles over on the Santa Fe Dam River Trail - The CA Cruiser ran the Newport Back Bay. That run is 11+ miles and I didn't want to push things. I'm sure they enjoyed a nicer view. I did see several other runners, tons of cyclists and even 3 guys on roller blades. I thought those went out in the 80's. I guess not.
Sun- 3 miles on the equestrian trail, again.

Grand total 18 miles for the week. On tap next week I finally break the double digit barrier for a long run and hit 20 miles for the week, for the first time since February. Unbelievable.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Big Question

After not running for nearly three months and anticipating being released to run again I wondered to myself and aloud to some friends "What if I don't love it any more?" It had me a little worried that I would even have the thought.

It has been difficult to explain to others how running 5 days a week and multiple marathons was fun. I can't really explain it to myself. I'm not an athlete, but running was something I enjoyed. After the injury the first week or so was really difficult. After a while though, I got used to not running. I guess that's what scared me into thinking I wouldn't enjoy it any more.

I still think about the big question. Sunday evening I headed over to Bonelli for an easy 3 miler. I headed out on what I call the Cottontail Trail a little after 8:00 p.m.

The sun had officially set while I was running but there was still plenty of light to navigate by. I was sharing the trail with no one but the namesake bunnies. I was at ease, enjoying the trail, the encroaching darkness, the cooling evening breeze, and the lemony smell of the eucalyptus trees when I realized I had the answer to the question.

I do still love it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Out with A Trail Run

Thursday night I entered my age as 46 on a race entry for the very last time possible. I had decided to take part in the Summer Trail Run Series at Peters Canyon in the OC. This is a three race series, 5 miles each. I had wanted to do this series last year but didn’t and I can’t really remember why not. I had run Peters Canyon before with the Cruisers. It is a small, tame wilderness area tucked in among typical Southern California subdivisions. I figured it was a gentle entry back into trail running and the 5 mile distance wasn’t pushing the mileage boundaries too much.

I arrived early. The next car to park was driven by someone I recognized. It was smsmh and tc, wife and child of the amazing hip. It turns out Jeff was going to be there as well but was arriving separately and parked in another lot. It was fun to meet little tc in person. He seems to be a pretty happy guy. At the registration area, Jeff found me. It was good to see him and catch up a little bit. Jeff seems to know everyone so our visit was much too short. It will be while before we’ll be able to share a run again. Unbelievably the last time we’d run together was August 2006.

There were 15 CA Cruisers there for the event. I know many abhor the idea of just training through, but that was really my only intent at this race I just wanted to get in a solid 5 miles and ease back into the trails. I lined up about mid-way in the pack.

The race starts out on a gravel path at Cedar Grove Park in Tustin and makes its way over to Peters Canyon. About a mile into the race we head up the hills through the eucalyptus grove. The trail runs pretty much straight along the ridge, rolling up and down. I felt fine, but needed to walk, along with many others, up a couple of the hills. Although it was significantly cooler in Orange County compared to my home in Los Angeles County 30 miles to the north, it was plenty warm on the hills.

At the turn around point we descended into the canyon proper and ran into a really nice cool breeze on a gentle down slope all the way back. Running through this section felt really good. Although I couldn’t muster any real speed, I was able to just maintain a solid, but slow, consistent pace. My time for the five miles was 49:05. Jeff on the other hand who had planned on taking it easy finished in a blistering 34:03, 19th overall. Now you see why we won’t be running together for a while.

One fun thing about this series is the BBQ afterward. We hung out over burgers, chicken and the biggest bag of chips ever. None of the Cruisers won anything in the raffle.

I was cool with my sub 50:00 finishing time. My 9:50 pace was right on for a training run. Then I realized that my 50 State inspiration, the 74 year old Dr. John, finished in 44:24. I got schooled by a man 25 years my senior! I tried to tell myself that he was racing while I was just running. It didn’t really help. I can’t recall every losing a race to him. It was a humbling experience. Slow (just not so slow) and steady is the only way back. Race #3 in the series is August 7 and I’ll be gunning for Dr. John (so much for respecting your elders). I may not catch him but I expect to narrow the gap. Catching Jeff on the other hand is going to take something akin to a miracle.

Today, my first day on the planet as a 47 year old, was a complete rest day. No running and no gym. My wife got me a really cool present. I’ll have to tell you all about that one in another post. I hope all your Saturday long runs or races go well.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

Baby Steps

Every week I add just a little bit more.

Since June 2 I've run only three days a week. Two weeks ago I finally broke into double digit mileage at 13.5. This week I added an extra day of running for a total of 16.2 miles in 4 days. The days I wasn't running I was at the gym.

I sat down on Saturday and worked out a training plan for assuming that everything will work out for Memphis. I've kept it to 4 days a week for the remaining 22 weeks. I think it is probably in the best interest of longevity to keep it easy, at least for the time being. Four days a week and the relatively low weekly mileage that goes with it won't get me any PR's or a BQ, but I think it is the only way right now that I can even hope to knock off another state.

I also looked through the local race calendar and found some trail runs and half marathons that fit nicely into the schedule. Most of them are races that have just not fit in before. So I'm pretty happy with the plan.

On Saturday I went down to Yorba Linda and met up with the Cruisers for the first time in like forever. It was really good to see everyone and to run the old Santa Ana Bike Path. I ran with Jay for 6 continuous miles. I felt pretty good but was more than ready to stop when the time came. The iced latte afterward sure went down smoothly.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Those Dreams Have Remained

This morning I pinned a race bib to my shirt and waited for the sound of the air horn. I was off and running my first race in four months.

Tyler and I drove down to Huntington Beach for the Surf City Run 5K. Back in 2003 this was my first race ever. I had no idea what I was doing at the time. I'd been running for a month on my own and for a week with the Snail's Pace Running Group. I was using an 8:1 run:walk sequence at the time. I'd read Galloway's book at the beginning of June. I took walk breaks in the race. I've never done that since that race. My time was 34:27 back then.

Surf City seemed like a fitting return to racing since I just got restarted in June, the same weekend I initially started running in 2003. My only real goal was to have fun and finish somewhere south of 30 minutes. Tyler hasn't been running much lately so his plan was to stick with me.

The beginning of the race was the usual crowding and jockeying for position. We probably placed ourselves a little further back than necessary. It took us just over 30 seconds to cross the starting line. The only real issue was walkers, 4 abreast, in the center of the road, too far up front. We've all fallen victim to them and they have every right to be on the course, but a little etiquette would go a long way. Tyler and I managed to stick together even with the weaving and bobbing.

We hit the first mile in 8:54 (my watch). That was a pleasant surprise. Not exactly Speedy Gonzalez but faster than any of my recent runs would have predicted. I just kept motoring along. Tyler was consistently just off to my right shoulder. At the halfway point, Tyler faded a step or two back. I couldn't see him out of the corner of my eye any longer. I just keep truckin' along. We had decided ahead of time to each run the best race we could.

I hit the 2 mile mark in 8:36. I was impressed with that. About that time I started getting the tingling feeling in my hands and on the top of my head that lets me know that I'm pushing a little. I kept moving forward as smoothly as possible.

The finish line is around a left turn. As I approached I could hear the announcer calling off the times and doing his best to get people to finish in 27:00 minutes. I thought - No way - but I stayed calmed pushed it a little and made it in at 27:10 or so official. The last 1.1 was at 9:15 for a final time by my watch of 26:45 - a very satisfying return to running/racing. Tyler came in about 1:30 after me.

Now I'm off to clean up the doggie doo doo and sweep the back porch. We're hosting about 25 friends for a July 4th swim party and barbecue. Feel free to stop by, the more the merrier.

note: the post title is a little snippet from the Welcome Back Kotter theme song.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Decrepit Peacock

I wanted to get in a three mile run tonight and couldn't decide if it was better to do it before or after the yoga class. Yoga started at 8:00. By the time I got around to making a decision I really didn't have enough time to go over to the equestrian trail for a run, so I opted for a 2 miler on the treadmill at the gym which gave me a couple of minutes to relax before the yoga session.

I'd never tried yoga before, but it has been recommended by several friends and runners as a good way to stretch out the muscles. Since I tend to be very tight, especially in the ankles and hips, I figured it couldn't hurt. The class is on Wednesday evening, which has been a off day from running so far and I'm not taking an on campus class this summer.

Another important factor for me is that the class was being taught by a guy. I figured that way I wouldn't be the only other guy the class. The classes I've seen going on at the gym tend to be heavily populated by the female gender. There ended up being about 5 guys and 30 women. I wasn't very graceful or able to do everything with the nice long lines, but the instructor was good at allowing us to do each pose to the best of our ability. Learning the vocabulary was a challenge. Like everything it will get easier with practice.

I need to learn about trade theory in the Czech Republic before tomorrow at midnight, so if you have any insight on that particular subject feel free to leave a comment. A half page paragraph on both a government intervention theory and a natural trade theory will do nicely. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Lunge, Step Down and Roll

I endured a killer leg workout with my personal trainer on Monday night. Among other things I endured 20x2 double pump lunges with 20 pounds of weights in my hands. That alone just about kicked my butt but there was much more.

Tuesday I had an appointment with the physical therapist. They were trying to squeeze 5 days worth of appointments into 4 so I was able to get in about an hour earlier than normal this morning and ended up having the PT, an intern and an aide all to myself. After the previous nights lunges I opted out of them today. They did tell me that I was doing the step down picture perfectly and wished they could have taped them to show other clients how to do it right. I'd better be getting pretty good at them. I've been doing them 2 to 3 days a week for the last couple of months.

Tonight I went out for a 4.5 mile run. Since I'm on the comeback trail I'm running a lot of the old routes I used to run back in 2003 when I started this crazy little adventure. My times now are about equivalent to then, too. Afterward I used the new foam roller. Boy were my quads screaming. My wife and son can't quite figure out how a big round piece of styrofoam would do anybody any good and get quite the kick out of watching me roll around the floor.

Last week at the gym I realized that there is a yoga class on Wednesday at 8:00 I'm going to give it a try tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.

Two more days until a long weekend! (Not that I'm counting ;-0)