Monday, August 30, 2010

Ugh...XX Part 2

The Good:

I went to Playmakers to seek guidance on my little blister problem Monday afternoon. They recommended Blist-O-Ban. I wasn't sure, especially considering the $8 price tag. Alas, I threw on two of the large adhesive strips and began to attempt my 22M run (one day late). There was no pain regarding the heel. Therefore, I now believe in magic because those babies are magic.

I started at 7p and did manage to hit the magical XX mileage mark.

I wanted to run an easy 8:30/M pace. I averaged an 8:37.

The Redhead was kind enough to bike a few miles with me and then meet up with me around mile 14 to provide a needed water break,

The Bad:

It got dark fast. Real fast. Seems the long summer days are over.

It was 87deg to start.

I started out well, but fell apart around mile 11. It was brutal, and I pulled up two miles short of my 22M goal.

I now have a small blister on the bottom of my left foot. Which I will address soon, at least before it becomes the size of its right foot counterpart.

I hurt. Doing back to back 20M runs is not easy.

The Lesson:

I came home and was defeated. Utterly defeated. But a running defeat is not the same as a defeat in life. Run defeats are temporary. And you can have a defeating run and still be optimistic.

Which is exactly how I felt after my run. Yep, butt kicked; even a little loopy. But I proved something out there. I did it, even when I had every reason to not. And how else should you celebrate after such a going to Taco Bell for some 4th Meal.

Perhaps running defeats and life defeats are not all that different after all, it just depends on your outlook. So, keep you outlook up my running friends.

An Understandable Fail

I had a big weekend of running planned. I was going to run the 10M CRIM on Saturday and follow it up with a slow 22M run on Sunday. But first I should back up to last Tuesday to help establish some context for my weekend fail.

Last Tuesday I took a short 2M run/jog wearing my Vibrams. I’ve owned and used my Vibrams for almost a year now, but I’ve never run farther than 3M wearing them. The reasoning for this is twofold: first; I have the original (read: cheapest version) where there are no straps or material to secure the shoe (is it a shoe?) to the foot (see picture below);

and second, my foot slides in them. I’ve purchased the toe-finger socks to try minimize this, but it all results in the occasional blister on the direct bottom of my heel. And yes, they are the correct size, the foot just naturally slides in any shoe you run in.

When I ran in my Vibrams last Tuesday I nonetheless still got a tiny (dime sized) blister on the bottom of my right heel. No big deal, I’ll just take it easy and it will go away naturally, as they always do.

But during my tempo run I managed to aggravate that blister, and during the last mile of my tempo run I felt the bottom of my heel “squish” a bit. When I got home I noticed the blister had grown to the size of a silver dollar. Ugh…not so good. But it had a few days to recover before the CRIM. No problem.

On the morning of the CRIM the Redhead began inquiring as to my desired pace. I was figuring something conservative—around 75 minutes. Because of her injury, she was going to be the official Spike Cheer Team Captain and photographer.

So, facing 60deg temperatures and a forecast of a cloudless day, I lined up just after the 7min pace sign and slammed an 8oz bottle of water. When there are over 10,000 runners, even if you line up by the 7min pace sign, you are going to have to spend a lot of time playing the human version of Pushy Penguins. I hit the first mile at a 7:08 and felt pretty comfortable. I didn’t look at my watch again until after mile three, where I saw a 6:59 split. Humm I thought, if I keep this up, I could hit something close to 70. But I knew I had the Bradley Hills to deal with, and the temperature was quickly rising to 65+.

When I hit the hills I felt I was moving through several of the runners even though my pace was slowing slightly. Up up up, down, up up up up, down down, up up up up, down, up up up and up. Finally, I reached the top of the hills and the end of mile 6. I decided to focus and try to run 7min miles for the last four. The only problem is that the blister on the bottom of my right heel was getting more and more insistent that it was extremely displeased with its current situation.

Somewhere around the start of mile 8 the blister felt like it exploded, and I felt like I was running on a soaked sponge. To say that this is a painful experience is to understate the experience greatly.

At mile 9 I decided to drop the hammer and ran a 6:24 mile. Because I was so focused, I missed the Redhead cheering for me, but she did manage to snap a picture of my final approach. Despite my goal, I managed to sneak in under 70 min. After the race I hobbled over to join the Redhead and double back to cheer on other runners—including my cousin.

When I finally took of my shoe to look at the damage…well, I’ll just let you see.

Home, and after a shower, the blister had to be addressed. So the Redhead donned her nurse outfit and played running nurse, cutting away the excess skin. It was hands down the most disgusting thing she has had to deal with since the beginning of our cohabitation (three months today!). The blister was so thick that it was like cutting leather. The result is…well…below…

Needless to say, such a mere flesh wound made my attempt at 22M less than 24 hours later idiotic. So, I bailed. And I’ll consider giving it another go tonight. Unfortunately, I’ll have to adjust my long runs accordingly because this could take a few days to heal.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Not to Put to Fine a Point on It

Or Gilding the Lilly

There are a few things I wanted to say before I espouse upon a musing left by my neighborhood hero. First, I failed to notice that this weekend’s 22M run must occur on Sunday, as I am running the 10M CRIM on Saturday. Well, race hard and enjoy a slow long run is what I say.

Also, I got up to do a 6M temp run this morning and it was 50deg. Beep yeah!!! I’m so ready to make out with Fall (as it wraps its cool- temperature arms around me) I might make the Redhead jealous.

But to the topic at hand; Nitmos’ post about just going out and running without a running plan. His post has been floating around in my heard for a few days now—and when you have a 4 hour car drive, that is a lot of time spent thinking about thing Nitmos has thought about. Additionally, I was recently inspired by Adam to review the graphs from my track workouts. Reviewing my track workouts I noticed how consistent my speed was for every interval. Regardless of distance, each graphed interval was flat line. Good if running, no so good if it is your EKG printout.

Nitmos’ post made me wonder: how does my body automatically know what pace to exert per any given distance? Doing 400m intervals, I hit about 80s. Doing 800m intervals, I hit 2:50min. But what I’m not doing is hitting the first 400m at 80s and then slowing to a 90s lap. I go 85s then 85s.

For some reason, I got an idea into my head this past Tuesday that I would add an extra 400m to my track session (I didn’t have a 400m interval scheduled that day). So, at the end of the workout I tried to burn out a 72s-75s 400m. I hit 80s flat. And, honestly, I was a little surprised. I felt like I was really pushing this one.* Yet, all I did was hit my normal 400m pace.

Now, I’m all for consistency, and running marathon miles at a consistent pace is a good thing (various course elevations may slightly alter this approach). Yet, am I doing the same thing as Nitmos and just running on feel and not fighting it? Shouldn’t I be trying to hit my 800m interval at 80s for the first lap and then trying to keep it close for the second lap? Is a 80s + 92s (1:52min) better than a 86s + 86s (1:52min) interval. Is there really more room to improve if I hit uneven spits?

I wonder....

*I know I was tired from doing an entire track workout, but it really wouldn’t be any different than the last 400m interval of a 2 x (6 x 400m) workout.

Monday, August 23, 2010


This past weekend I had my first 20M run since April. I love to say: “It’s not the XX, but the VI of a marathon that get you.” But if you haven’t run 20M in a long time, the last five are going to hurt.

And that was the story this past weekend. So, while the Redhead was away and enjoying the fun Chicago has to offer, I tucked into bed at 8pm to be up by 4am (that’s right, Chicago has nothing on the Lansing night-life).

Sure it was 71deg at 5am and sure it was about 90% humidity, but what’s new? Most annoying was that the weather decided to drizzle on and off, but never fully rain (read: keeping the humidity high while never offering the sweet refreshment of cool rain). The run went well for the first 15M, but soon fell apart during the last 5. It should come as no surprise that the last 5 held a lot of ‘just focus on one more mile’ and ‘will this run ever end?” I also ended up chanting my montra for the last two miles. But I made it.

Next week I introduce a new ‘tweek’ into my training, stacking 20M+ runs back to back. So I’ll be doing 22M on Saturday, this time with an extra focus on the last 5.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Farewell to Arms (and Legs)

Yeah sure, you may have been the one to break up with me first, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to end it anyway. I just thought I’d stay with you until after the holiday—I don’t want your friends to think I’m rude or anything.

That said, I’d like to say thank you for all of your kind sarcastic remarks and your willingness to allow bloggers and your wife to school you in running. Your every failure lifted my spirits just that much higher.*

I could spend more time drafting a mini-dissertation on why you will be missed, but others have done so and I couldn’t do it better.

Finally, the Big Ten is just too good for you.

* Yes, I am doing the macho thing and masking my sadness by being cold and indifferent.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Long Discussion About Things

or…My Running State of Training Speech

I’ll begin with an admission, I’m bad with change. I’m not talking about my absolute hatred of pennies; no, it’s the other kind of change. More specifically, I resist making an easy change even when it will benefit me. An example: I started my new job last October, the week before the Chicago Marathon. At my previous job, clients came to the firm. Now, working for a corporation, we go to the client. This means I went from a very predictable 8a to 5p job to days where I may work from 12p to 10p by the time I finish my commute home. Because the profession I represent is 24 hours a day/7 days a week, often I have meetings at 7pm (and the occasional 6am meeting). At my old job, we had unlimited internet freedom. New job, not so much. Old job, at desk all day. New job, at desk once a week. Basically, I now work non-standard hours and must always dodge the internet boogeyman.

That said, back to the ‘bad with change’ part. While training for Boston I could have done my runs in the morning if I knew I had to work late that evening. I didn’t. Instead I tried to force in late runs and ended up missing several workouts. Yep, I’d get home at 9:30p and I’d try to go do a tempo run—which never went well. Why run at night when I could easily run in the morning? Because it’s cold and dark and sidewalks are not plowed on any average Michigan winter morning. Then again, the same applies for any average Michigan winter evening. Hummm…

Alas, when change presented me with an opportunity(i.e. run in the morning)—I ignored it. I tried to stick to my old ways and ended up frustrated because I was missing several of my weekly runs. Not to mention the fact that I tried to do track workouts in the winter. Yes, I’m stubborn (read: stupid) enough to try and do 400s, 600s, 800s, etc in winter. I’d try to find a clear length of sidewalk and sprint it…in winter. It didn’t work. I couldn’t find a clear length or I’d face horrific winds and sleet the few days I could find enough room to sprint. Oh, did I ever mention that I live extremely close to Michigan State University and that MSU has an indoor track open to the public? Did I ever use this indoor track during Boston training? Come on, you should know the answer to this!!!

So, while I never missed a long run, I never really fully trained adequately. And despite a goal of running Boston at a comfortable pace, I still had a crap-tastic race.

After Boston, I took several weeks off. I’d been training hard for over 16 months. I rested. I didn’t run or workout. Instead, I read. I prepared for the Redhead to move in. I slept late on weekends. I ate Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, dark chocolate Reese’s, and Cheez-Its. And I got out of running shape. But it was wonderful. Simply, my body needed the rest (but not so much Taco Bell).

When base training for Grand Rapids was supposed to begin in early June, I sorta did it. I’d maybe run once or twice during the week. Same problem, refusing to run in the morning and trying to force runs in late at night.

This all resulted in me arriving at the start of my Grand Rapids training at the below designated fitness level.

I ran Chicago 09 at 178lbs. I weighed in before GR training at 205lbs. 25 extra pounds makes a difference regarding running shape. My first several weeks of training were stuffed full of slower runs where I was easily winded. Sure, some of my speed still remained, but I wasn’t going to last for much longer than a few miles.

But our bodies love to get healthy. I began to eat better (read: limiting my TB intake and (and this is a big deal for me) when forced to eat out—even at a fast food place—ordering a salad without dressing). I never die from eating salads. A good change, but one I always institute while training.

If a tree can make an abrupt change, why not I?

But the biggest change was only possible with the support of the Redhead. Together, she has helped me become a morning runner. Yep, every run begins before 6:30a. I won’t lie, it sucks. Early morning running should only be reserved for long runs. Alas, now I run in the am. And I’ve managed to hit all of my runs this way. I’ve combined eating healthier with regularly working out and guess what—I’m getting back into good running shape. I’ve lost over 10lbs in 4 weeks; plus my speed and endurance are getting back to form. Imagine that!?!

Are my times what they were last year at this point in my training—no. But last year I had the benefit of running Bayshore and then Sunburst and then began Chicago training—so I had an excellent base going into Chicago 09. And the goal this year is to have an awesome Boston. Which means training as hard as possible for Grand Rapids and carrying that momentum (and the adjustments I have made/should have made last year) into training for the 115th running of the Boston Marathon.

But really, what does all of this mean. I think it goes to show a few important aspects of running. Initially, regardless of whether you run in Asics or barefoot, if running is going to remain a long-term partner in your life, then you are going to have to allow yourself the gift of adjusting change. Life will always find cleaver, if not outright inconvenient, ways to interrupt your ‘perfect training plan.’ You can fight it, or accept it and make the best possible adjustment you can. And not to discredit the individuals who pursue running streaks or those who have trained hard every week for 75 straight years…but I’m a firm believer your body needs rest.

Second, there is a beauty in accepting that you are not where you were before; and that it will take some time to get back there. Don’t all long distance runners accept that the prize is in the journey and not the destination? Whether it is an injury-induced refrain from running or a self-imposed month of gluttony, there is joy in rediscovering your stride. It is not courageous to set a PR every time; it is courageous to fail and decide to continue—knowing what sacrifices must be made in order to toe the line once more.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On a Roll

Rolls I like: Sushi rolls (especially spicy tuna); log rolling; foam rollers; Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China; cinnamon rolls. Them there are some good rolls.

Rolls I don’t like: barrel rolls while I’m in the plane; Rolls-Royce; Sylvester Stallone in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!; and rolling my ankle.

Half way through mile six on my 17M long run I took an awkward step, and rolled my left ankle.

The good, I’ve rolled many ankles. The bad, I know when it’s a serious roll. This is a ‘just below serious’ roll. But I'm optimistic this is not a miss-an-entire-week-of-training kind of injury.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things of Summer

We are surrounded by the Dog Days of Summer, but it seems more like a pack of cramp-inflicting, uber-sweat-inducing, make you beg for a sprinkler to coordinate with your run and allow a few brief drops of cool water to caress you days of summer. I personally blame Sirius.

But, I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to all runners living in the Southeaster and South-central parts of the country, who have to deal with 100+ temps today. I think it sucks to have 73 degrees and crazy humidity at 7am, while y'all are starting at 80+ at 6ish.

Sorry my running friends, sorry.