Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Abridged

Has it really been three weeks since I threw up a decent post? I’ve been hitting my weekly mileage goals since Run Through the Pines, Week 10. I’m now at the half way point in the plan to get to Tennessee. I finished up August with 95.5 miles.

Week 11 was a grand total of 17 miles with the long run of 7. It was one of the hardest 7 miles I’d run in a long time. I’d done 6.8, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 6.7 on my way to RTP without issue. I used an 11:1 run:walk ratio for this one. I rationalized that since I was running shorter I could take less walking breaks. I reported after RTP that my leg felt good. It really did. But that was the last time it felt good.

Week 12 totaled 25.5 miles on a 14 mile long run. I ran the 2 Parks-2 Loops plus Summit House Hill route with the CA Cruisers. I took the first 4 miles really easy on the Summit House section staying back with the slower runners. Back on the 2P-2L section I stepped things up a bit. I used the 8:1 ratio this time.

This week, Week 13, the mileage stepped back to 19.5 with the long run of 8. All week long the leg had been bugging. The muscle tightness was back along the shin bone. With finger pressure along the shin I could find a pain spot without much trouble. I ran the 8 miler at the river trail along the Santa Ana River where I trained for my first marathon. It has been a long time since I’ve run this particular section. I went back to my tried and true run a mile, walk a minute routine. This is what I expect to use in Memphis. The one really nice thing about this run was my pace. I consistently held 9:30 miles without any perceived increased effort. This is a significant improvement over most of my recent long runs.

Later that day my leg was bugging me. The physical part is bad enough, but the mental side of it is even tougher. Sunday morning I got up to do my 4 miler. I had decided ahead of time that I would just walk the first three miles and only run the last one. I stuck to my plan and had some tough conversations with myself during those 50 minutes of walking. When I got home, Lisa was awake. She noted that I had been gone for quite a long time. I told her how I had walked most of my run and told her why.

She asked me, “Are you OK?” It was a simple question, but I don’t have a simple answer. Truthfully, right now I’m not OK. Admitting defeat to your own body is tough. It’s too much to think about and definitely too much to blog about.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's a Dean Thing

I had the opportunity tonight to spend some time with like minded people at a book signing by Dean Karnazes for his latest book 50/50, Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days - And How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance. I'd seen Dean before at a signing for his first book Ultramarathon Man. I've even had the chance to run along side him, for a short period of time, at the St. George Marathon in 2006. S. George was marathon 21 of the 50 for him. Although he finished well ahead of me he was still around the finish area when I got there and my wife was able to snap a picture of us together. I admit it, I'm a fan of the guy.

He spent only a few minutes talking about the new book and then graciously answered questions for at least 30 minutes. He insists that he's just an average guy with a passion for running. His hope for this book is to encourage the rest of us mere mortals to pursue our passions, whether they are running related or not.

A few days ago Greg; a runner, a blogger and a journalist; got to spend some time on the road with Dean. Greg interviewed Dean for his newspaper. Some of the out takes can be found here on Greg's blog. I’ve had the opportunity to run with Greg on the trails in the Santa Ana Mountains. He is a laid back long mileage trail runner. If you poke around his blog very long you’ll see he likes the long runs. One of the coolest things I think he’s done has been the Coastal Challenge, a 6 day stage race in Costa Rica.

While standing in the line to get the book signed I chatted for bit with a young guy behind me. He runs the marathon distance regularly, usually in the middle of the night, as part of his regular training, yet he’s never run an actual marathon. He is planning on running the inaugural Pasadena Marathon later this year as his first official. I should have asked him more about what motivates him to run so far at such odd times.

A kinda cool side note to the book signing was that I got to meet, Billy of L.A. Runner. I’ve been following his blog for the last couple of months. It is always cool to run into virtual folks in person. He just finished the San Francisco marathon a couple of weeks back in sub 4:00 time and is on his way to the next one, California International in December.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Of Canyons and Pines

After last week's easy - cut back week, it was time to ramp things up just a little bit more on the way to marathon #13. The plan called for 3-3 milers and a long run of 12. With some lucky placement of distances in the race schedule I pushed the planned 21 to nearly 24.

Thursday I went back to the OC to run the third installment of the Peters Canyon Summer Trail Race Series. The CA Cruiser contingent was thinned out considerably, being down to 5 of us. So much for all my big talk after the last one about gunning for Dr. John. He handily beat me (after having run the San Fran marathon just 4 days prior). This time the loop was run clockwise, leaving the rolling hills until the 2nd half. Some of the down hills are pretty steep, by no means my strong suit. I'd much rather go up than down. The weather was warmer but didn't seem to be a huge factor. In the end I was a few seconds slower than a month ago with a 49:46 for the 5 miles. This accounted for 2 of the extra miles for the week.

Saturday, I was back at the starting line for the Run Through the Pines Half Marathon. The half fell on the weekend of my 12 miler. The race is held in Crestline and is run as laps around Lake Gregory. Crestline is the closest and maybe smallest of the mountain getaways in the San Bernardino Mountains about an hour from home. Lake Gregory is a small lake at 86 surface acres at an elevation of 4520 feet. Lisa and I drove up Friday afternoon and spent the weekend there. It was a great excuse to get out of town and spend some quality time together. I was joined by 6 other Cruisers, 4 of which were staying at the same hotel by coincidence.

I wasn't going to "race" this one. I just wanted to get the miles in. I stuck to a 7 minute run/1 minute walk interval for the entire race. I started my watch at the beginning and used it only to track the intervals. The half marathon was 4 loops around the lake plus some extra to get the 13.1 distance in. The lake is encircled by a 6 foot fitness path about 3 miles in distance. I did have to check my watch once to determine if I'd made three loops or four. Although I didn't mind doing four loops, it was somewhat difficult to keep a mental count on just how many I had completed. Running the loops had the benefit of crossing the three on course aid stations for times each and you knew exactly when to expect the little up and downs of the mountain road. The course was about 50% shaded. The loop course also afforded multiple chances to see Lisa. She was the unofficial race photographer and caught nearly all of us each lap around.

I was the third Cruiser to finish, behind Randy and Cathe. I came in at 2:10 for a 9:55 pace, a satisfying pace for this point in the return/training. I had nearly caught Cyndee as she completed her third lap. Lisa and I waited and cheered for Denis, Dr. John, Dorothy and Cyndee to finish. It was a fun little event with only 75 finishers. The finisher award was a hand crafted cutout of a pine tree with a small nameplate affixed to the base.

We spent the afternoon reading and just generally being lazy. I read "Endurance, Shackleton's Incredible Voyage". It is pretty amazing what he and his crew accomplished in the Antarctic in 1915-16. We did take a pedal boat out on the lake which probably wasn't the best idea after having run 13.1 miles. We did enjoy some good grub while we were there. The shrimp penne at The Stockade was tasty and a great carbo load the night before the race. The fish tacos at La Cocina de Tony #2 were some of best I've had and went down really well with the celebratory Dos X's Amber. The homemade pasta cannelloni and manicotti at The Cottage for dinner were also very satisfying.

I got up Sunday morning and ran another lap around the lake to bring my weekly mileage total to 23.8. We couldn't leave the mountain without one good breakfast and Billy Bears fit the bill. We lingered over our coffee for a while not really wanting to come back down the hill to reality, teenagers and work.

Next week, things ratchet back a little with the long run being "only" 7 miles. The 7 miles reminds me of a shoe slogan I saw recently that said "Our short runs used to be our long runs". I'm getting back to that point and feeling good about it. My shin held up really well. The stress fracture and any lingering pain has subsided for now. Earlier in the week the physical therapist released me. Good news, yet a bit scary to be going it alone.

One little piece of trivia about Crestline I read in a brochure by the Crestline Business Council - "In 1921 Los Angeles real estate developer, Charles Mann, purchased a major interest in this area and began promoting Crestline Village as a year-round resort destination." Imagine that!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Magazine Wisdom

I’m not really aware of a runners’ high, but I think it keeps me from getting the human low – Jim Kravets (in Trail Runner magazine)

First off some numbers keeping:

79.2 miles for July. My third highest month for the year, but well off my average of 125/month in 2007.

This week was a step back week with only 15.7 miles, 3 - 3 milers and a 6.7 mile long run on Saturday. I did the long run at a 6:1 ratio. I felt really strong on the second half and could have easily run more but stuck to the plan.

I read an article that resonated with me in the May 2008 Running Times. It talked about adult-onset athletes. The definition pretty much fits me to a T. The closest I was to being an athlete as a kid was the manager for the junior high basketball team. Even with that I broke by little finger throwing passes during practice.

The chord that really struck me was the tendency of AOA's to train non stop; not taking into account training phases - conditioning, competing, peaking, and recovery. "Unfortunately for adult-onset runners, the sport of road running has developed into an endless, year-round competitive season." (Running Times, May 2008).

Since I started running I've trained year round. Living in Southern California just made me even more susceptible to this. The weather is almost always good and the local race schedule is plentiful year round. Combine this with the 50 state goal and someone like me can easily run themselves into the ground and apparently I did. The article predicts that 4-5 years into this year round schedule an injury could occur. This ultimately leads to an unplanned recovery period, 13 weeks in my case.

My best year was 2006 after having taken most of January off and then having a 6 month build to my first sub 4:00 marathon, my 8th marathon after starting from 0 three years prior. I've read about recovery periods but have never taken more than a week after a marathon, sometimes as little as three days, before getting right back at it again. I assumed my midpack efforts only required that little rest.

My body was obviously trying to tell me something different. The question is am I smart enough to listen.
In other news, my friend and lab rat, Janice, ran her first marathon this weekend. We ran the Fontana Days Half together back in 2006. She is currently up in San Francisco at dental school. She trained with a race sponsored training group and finished the San Francisco marathon in 4:17. I'm really excited for her.