Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Whoa There, Cowboy!

First of all, I hope you're enjoying the holidays, and eating plenty of "running fuel," as I like to call it. Interpret that as you will.

In reference to the title of the post, I recently had both a breakthrough and a setback all in the same run. This was a week ago Tuesday (Dec. 20th), when I set out on my weekly "long" run. Up to that point, 5 miles was as far as I had ventured. On this day, as I finished 5 and still felt fresh and without any sign of injury-related pains, I continued for another mile, to record my longest run since August of 2010 (when I ran 12 miles, then went on a very long-term disabled list).

I posted with excitement on Daily Mile how great it felt to run 6 miles. Sure, it's only a mile longer than the 5 I had been doing, but in my mind it was a mini breakthrough; being nearly a 10k.

Well, it didn't take long for the repercussions to appear. My lower right Achilles tendon was very sore for several days. I went for a "dog jog" the next day, then a 5k run last Thursday (the first 2 miles very slowly w/my daughter, with a still slow 3rd mile), during which I felt pretty lifeless. My breathing issues were still a problem (I really think I have allergies related to our dog. Guess I need to get tested). The ache persisted, so I skipped my Saturday morning club run.

I walked the neglected pup on Christmas night, after which my right knee really acted up. What the heck?! Any running "mojo" I felt I had gained from my 6-miler was completely gone.

Yesterday I struggled through what should have been an easy 45 minute spin on the trainer. Ugh. Today, I decided to see if I could sneak some fast half miles into a 4-miler. After a warmup mile, I ran three hard half miles (3:33, 3:30, 3:27) followed by 3 easy half miles after each one. It was tough, but I felt pretty good, in terms of breathing and body aches.

Lesson? Stay the course for now, by which I mean don't try adding more distance just yet. And when I start feeling run down, ease up. This whole process of "coming back" as a runner looks like it will be a very long-term process. That's okay, though. I've got plenty of time, Lord willing ;-)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Streakin'

I'm sheepishly admitting to a 9-day running streak (as of now), even though my mileage during this streak is quite low. Several of those runs have been what I call "Dog Jogs" (running with my nearly 5-month old lab pup), which I keep short — no farther than 1.5 miles currently. So my mileage over these 9 days is a paltry 21.5. My intent isn't to put together a streak just for the sake of a streak. I've never been a "streaker" as a runner. My record is 19 days in a row for 117.5 miles. Not a lot of consecutive running days, from the perspective of people who sometimes run months (or years) without missing a day. My intent is three-fold. I want to see if my body can handle more frequent, albeit short, running. I want to see if this short, frequent running will have a positive effect on my fitness. And, probably more importantly, I want to give my puppy some good exercise (and start training him to be a running partner).

I doubt the "streak" will last long, as we'll be doing some traveling during the holidays. But I'll probably continue with this general approach as long as I can, since I've been feeling good while doing it.

If I don't post again in the next week, here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Candy Cane Dash 5k

Well. If there was ever a race I shouldn't have run, it was this one. I last ran this race in 2003, when there were 405 finishers. Today, there were 30 or 40. When I showed at 8:00am for day-of-race sign up, they told us that the start time had been changed from 9:00am to 10:00am because one of the volunteers was going to be late (huh?). It's sad to see a formerly vibrant race die a sad death.

I decided to wear my new Brooks Launch (the old red and orange model. They're new, but sitting in a box in my garage for over a year), instead of my new Pure Flow; partially because of a tweak behind my left knee (thanks to a lot of jumping in my latest video) and thanks to multiple suggestions from my friend (and running conscience) Mark U. I'll do a few more short runs in them before I run a race in them. It was chilly, so I layered up with a couple of long-sleeve tech shirts under my Brooks racing singlet, and went with tights and compression socks down below.

One thing that made me a bit uncomfortable is the stereotype I seem to portray; especially at these small races. I'm decked out in Brooks pro race gear, so I look fast. I've also got the bodytype of a fast runner. The thing is...right now, anyway...I'm NOT FAST. But while waiting for the race to start, I could feel lots of eyes on me that seemed to be saying, "oh, this guy must be going for the win," or "what's HE doing here at our little race?" Boy, were THEY in for a letdown!

Once the race began, I realized that, for the most part, the course was unmarked and unmanned. There were 3 or 4 volunteers out on the course, but due to the winding nature (going up and down side streets, through wooded trails, etc.), there was no way to know where to go unless you knew the course, or could stay close enough to someone in front of you who did. I succeeded in keeping up with a high school cross-country runner (girl) so I wouldn't get off course. I've had trouble all week with my breathing — partially due to a chest cold, and partially due to the lousy air quality here (which I'm pretty sensitive to, it turns out). Thankfully, the above-mentioned soreness behind my knee wasn't an issue during the race (although it's tender as I write this). What was an issue are the measly 12 miles per week I've been running...with no speed work...and this being my first race (aside from pacing my daughter) in 15 months. With that said, my game plan was to go out at 7:30, run mile 2 at 7:20, then bring it home with whatever was left. I ended up going out at 7:25 and ran mile 2 also in 7:25, splitting the difference (unusual consistency for me). As I neared the finish, I could tell the course was significantly short. I ran what turned out to be the last .92 in 7:06 pace (7:19 pace for the whole race). I did push myself but, with the breathing issues, I didn't want to go too deep into the pain cave.

It's a shame it was a short course, as I can't compare the finishing time to other races. Using some math, it was equal to a 22:42 5k, which is just about what I ran in my 5k time trial a couple of weeks ago. At least I have a bit of a benchmark to go by when I run my next race in January.

But skipping this particular race wouldn't have been a bad idea, in hindsight.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Minimalist Running Debate: The Ultimate Revelation

Thank You Brooks!

I'm still hoping I didn't receive the confirmation by mistake, but I'm thrilled to be a part of the Brooks Inspire Daily program for a third straight year. Yes, even middle-age, slow, semi-injured runners are eligible, apparently.

I started wearing Brooks shoes & gear in the mid-90's (if you don't count my first pair of running shoes in middle school, circa 1978), and would still be wearing them exclusively today even without the sponsorship. I believe in their products that much.

If you haven't yet given them a spin, please do. I'm fortunate to live just up the road from their headquarters (and their outlet store), and enjoy volunteering at their bi-annual clearance sales. I learn more about their products each time.

Even though 2012 will be primarily a 5k-focused year for me, as I try to rebuild from injury, I'll be out there happily and proudly decked out in Brooks shoes & apparel for yet another year.

Run Happy, folks!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a pretty sentimental and nostalgic person. Maybe the time of year has me feeling more this way. With that said, it probably comes as no surprise that I feel a touch of sadness when I retire a pair of running shoes. Go ahead, challenge my Man Card status. But remember — I have a wife and two daughters, so I'm outnumbered hormonally and influenced estrogenally (I think I just created a new word).

Yes, my very first pair of Brooks Launch are now officially retired. They carried me for 306 miles of memorable running, including several half marathons (one of them being a PR), many long runs and tempo runs, and one 22 mile pacing adventure during a 50-mile ultra. Throw in some track sessions and a 5-mile race PR (the day before that 22-miler) and you can see why I'm nostalgic and a bit verklempt about pulling these babies from my current rotation. Or maybe you can't. And I'm okay with that.


 The end of their "run" was Saturday's 5k with my daughter (and frequent running partner this year) Natalie. At least it was a fitting and memorable end. A "Launch Retirement Party" is forthcoming.

But fear not! I have in stock one more pair of my favorite running shoes of all time (unless my new Brooks Pure Flow dethrone them), ready to pick up where the first trusty pair left off. And yes, they're the original red and orange color scheme (which I still prefer over the new bland colors).

Imelda Marcos, eat your heart out.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Race Photo

Natalie & Dad Finishing Toys for Tots 5k (12/3/11)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Toys for Tots 5k

I'm lazy, so I'm copying this from my Dailymile entry:

Well, on a chilly overcast morning, her streak of age group victories & PR's was broken...as they all are, eventually. A combination of too little training, breathing issues and recurring heel pain kept Natalie from running quite as fast as she wanted to. Right before the race, I asked her if she felt like pushing the pace. She said yes, so I put on my pacer hat once again. In hindsight, I should have backed off the pace when she started struggling a bit instead of encouraging her to push. Still, she ran a decent time and I'm proud of her. The field was quite large (for this race, anyway), so she "only" managed 4th in her age group (nothing to be ashamed of!) I'm not sure of the total number of runners yet (EDIT - see below). I'm considering running another local 5k next Saturday on my own. While I enjoy running with my daughter, I'm itching to air it out a little.

For those who are curious, the 5k I'm planning on running next Saturday (Dec. 10th) is the Candy Cane Dash, in Shoreline, WA. I ran this event in 2002 and 2003. It's a fun little race. While I have no delusions of running a fast time, I'd at least like to see where my fitness is at. Unlike today, I'll be wearing my Brooks Pure Flow, in what will be their racing debut. I'll likely post a shoe review shortly after.

UPDATE
Here are Natalie's numbers from the race:
Time - 27:53
Overall - 35 of 159
Age Group - 4 of 22
Women - 12 of 101

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another Good Week

I wrapped up another encouraging week of training. I'm not breaking any new ground lately, but I'm happy with the fact that my finicky body seems to be settling into my current training plan quite nicely. Here's what went down:

MON - bike trainer, 50 min. / weights (push workout) / 1 mile "dog jog"
TUE - run 4 miles
WED - weights (pull workout), 1 mile "dog jog"
THU - run 3.1 miles
FRI - freestyle lap swim, 2100 yds.
SAT - run 4 miles (+ possible 2 mi. run w/daughter in the p.m.)
SUN - off

It's not a ton of training, but even with this modest program, some of my fitness is returning. So far I've been able to resist the temptation of increasing the running frequency and duration. Given the low level of pain I've been feeling lately, I'm going to stay the course for the time being.

My next "race" will be on December 3rd when, once again, I will be my daughter's pacer in a local 5k. But come January, I'll begin racing 5k's myself. While I expect slow times initially, I'm excited to push the pace a little. Here's hoping the wheels don't come flying off when I do!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

3 Road Races, 3 Age Group Wins (or...My Life As A Pacer)

I'm sure you get tired of me crowing about my oldest daughter Natalie...but I certainly can't crow about any of my own running achievements lately...so you'll have to indulge me yet again ;-)

This morning, we ran the Fowl Fun Run 2-miler (there's also a 10k). This was the first race we've run twice together. In fact, the whole family joined in this year, with my youngest daughter run-walking it, and my wife mostly walking.

Natalie's time this year was 16:20, which was 1:04 faster than last year's 17:24. As indicated in the title, she once again won her age group. We went out a bit slower than I had planned (8:17), but closed with a decent 7:54 second mile. She laid into her signature kick in the home stretch. She can very nearly out-kick me!

Our next race will be a 5k in Arlington, WA (same course as our 5k in September). I'll pace her in that one, then come January, she's on her own as I try to actually "race" a 5k myself. That should be good for a laugh!

Aside from her performance today, it was encouraging that she had no pain. Recently, she was complaining about her knee (she seems to come down with the same injuries I have. Hmm...) The course was flat, so that may have helped. As for me, I felt fine as well.

I need to start monitoring my weight closely, though. I've mentioned before that I have trouble keeping it on. As little as I've been running, it's odd to me. I've been doing some bike trainer work, swimming and weights along with the running, but really not that much. After peaking at 173 a few months ago, I'm back down to 163. What raised my eyebrows was an unintentional 2 lb. weight loss last week. I'd like to race next year at about 155 (I was too low at sub-145 during marathon training in early 2010), so keeping the calories up will be my mission. Tough work, but somebody's got to do it ;-)

Speaking of which, we brought home a nice Costco-sized pumpkin pie from today's race. They always have good grub there!

Happy training & racing, folks!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Interesting Article

Here's an article that shares some interesting thoughts about Chris McDougall and his nearly evangelical approach to THE way to run. No, I have no beef with McDougall (I read and mostly enjoyed Born to Run), but I've never been a fan of the idea that there's only one way to skin a cat. I certainly don't advocate overstriding or slamming down on one's heels while running, but I don't buy into the 'let's all throw out our evil cushioned running shoes' philosophy, either. Okay, enough editorializing from me. Here's the link.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Natalie's Diagnosis

After seeing her doctor, Natalie's heel pain has been diagnosed as issues with her growth plates. This is good news. No hairline fractures, no tendonitis, no bone bruises, no spurs, etc. The doctor said the condition would cease when Natalie...how do I put this delicately so as not to embarrass my daughter...reaches the next step in maturing as a woman (which will probably be relatively soon).

Can she still run? Yes, but with a little less intensity for awhile. Perfect timing, since cross-country is over and track doesn't start until next spring. We'll run a couple of races together between now and then, but any other running she does will be pretty low-key.

She'll still see the PT on Wednesday to get more info on how to treat the problem. Her doctor today said that stretching & icing the achilles and calves would help, along with adding heel cups to her shoes. She also said that if there was too much irritation for too long, it could result in my problem - Haglund's Deformity. Hopefully that won't happen.

While I'm not happy she's had to go through this pain, I am relieved it's not a more serious situation. I'll follow up after our PT visit on Wednesday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If It's Good Enough For Ed Whitlock...

If you're not familiar with Ed Whitlock, he's a now 80-year old Canadian distance runner who, at the age of 73, became the oldest person to run a sub-3 hour marathon (2:54:48). At 75, he ran a 3:08. Recently (at age 80) he clocked a 3:15 marathon. All of these are world records for his age group. Unbelievable stuff!

How does he train (or claim to train)? He runs 2-3 hours very slowly around a cemetery every day. He says his only true "speed work" comes in the form of frequent races. Due to an Achilles problem and arthritic knees, he avoids hills and speed in his training.

For the next few months, I'm going to adopt his approach...well, minus the 2-3 hour runs and the cemetery. I will be keeping ALL of my runs slow, 3-5 miles, focusing on a low heart rate. To a great extent, I've been doing that, but my competitive juices (and my impatience) have led me to sneak in some tempo running...or flat-out speed (a 6:42 mile I had no business running, sandwiched between a couple of slow miles three weeks ago), plus a few tempo-ish runs that got away from me. As I continue to rebuild from this injury (or "these" injuries, as my old knee injury is acting up again), I need to continue building a fitness base; increasing my capillary beds and cardiovascular fitness. I will also keep this mindset when I'm on the bike trainer twice per week. I was on the trainer twice this week, and both times I hammered more than I should have (and my knee said "ouch"). As for the pool, it'll be harder to hold back. Whenever I try to swim too slowly, I feel like I'm about to sink. At least a moderate effort in the pool won't hammer my heel and knee.

So, until the end of January 2012, my training will remain slow, but any racing (no longer than 5k) will be at tempo/threshold pace. Hey, if it's good enough for Ed, it's good enough for me. I'm sure my first couple of 5k's will be embarrassingly slow. I hope to run 1-2 of them per month next year.

A quick update on my daughter Natalie (who has some heel pain). She will be seeing her pediatrician on Monday, then a specialist (sports PT) on Wednesday. I'll post whatever we find out sometime next week.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Natalie's XC Season Wrap-Up

Natalie's 7th grade cross-country season ended yesterday with her District meet. This was the only meet of the season in which 7th and 8th graders were split into separate races. Here's how she fared, by the numbers:

Distance: 1.5 miles
Time: 11:00
Pace: 7:20/mile
Place: 10 of 34 (2nd of 7 for her school)

For this race, she averaged a pace faster than her previous best 1 mile time (7:21), which bodes well for a possible sub-7 mile in track next spring. In her first meet, she averaged 8:04 per mile, so she improved quite a bit, even with a very sore heel.

Which brings us to our next step — getting her heel checked out. I'll be making an appointment with a local PT doctor soon (today, hopefully) to see what's going on. We're signed up for a little 2-mile fun run on November 12th (which she ran last year), but we'll play it by ear. I see a lot of potential in her as a runner, and we certainly don't want her to begin her running career with a bad injury.

I'll follow up with any news after the doctor's visit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Natalie Update

My 7th grade daughter Natalie ran her last home cross-country meet of the season yesterday. This was the first time this season that she's run twice on the same course, so she could make a direct comparison of a past performance. She had both an excellent race and a painful race. Her time was 11:42 (:24 faster than her 12:06 on the same 1.5 mile course a month ago), and she finished 5th overall (out of 22 girls) and 3rd for her team. Her finishing kick is developing into her signature move, as she once again chased down and passed 2 girls in the final 200-300 meters, and very nearly finished 4th. I'm not sure I could take her in a finishing sprint!

However, this race came with a price. Her heel has been aggravating her all season, and yesterday BOTH of her heels were hurting badly during the race. At about the halfway point in the race, she gestured to me that she was in a lot of pain. I wasn't sure if she was going to drop out or push through it. I should have known she'd push through (she's proving to be very tough), but I also cringed at the thought, since I'm still fighting a similar injury.

Last night, she alternated ice with heat on both heels. She'll take it easy until the District meet next Tuesday. Then she'll pretty much shut it down until we get her to a doctor and figure out what's going on. We do have a little 2-mile race we're running together on November 12th. Hopefully she can still run it.

Even with this injury, she's had a great season. I'm seeing signs of a potentially very good (if not great) distance runner in her. If she continues, she'll be a much better runner than I ever was...at least by comparison, but quite possibly literally! She's showing some mental toughness that I honestly wasn't sure she had until this season. I'm just hoping her heel problem is minor.

As for me, I'm still doing my usual routine of 3 runs, a bike ride and a couple of swims per week. Steady as she goes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Groove

I hope you're still buckled up if you're riding this roller-coaster with me.

Or maybe it's more a case of "athletic schizophrenia." I have bad days and good days. Bad weeks and good weeks. This was a good week. I managed to get in a bit of a breakthrough swim, a nice bike ride and three successful runs, topped off with a pain-free 3.2 mile run this morning. My average running pace is slowly improving, while keeping my heart rate in the same range. My injuries still seem to be against me doing any back-to-back runs (which I did this week, and had some soreness afterward), and runs longer than around 4 miles still aren't in the cards. But I seem to have found a bit of a groove that's working. I won't get into great shape on this program, but I'll take what I can get. Through this whole process, I'm learning how to be patient (never a strong point for me).

What's interesting is that my heel seems to be doing pretty well, while my knee (same leg) has been acting up. The knee injury is at least 15 years old (had an MRI in '97 that showed degenerative cartilage and a partially torn meniscus), yet it never acted up during my marathon buildup early last year. I also seem to have a Baker Cyst behind that knee. I may have to finally go under the knife sometime soon. But, like today, there are times when things feel fine. There is a definite limit to my pace, volume and frequency, though.

So while a lot of my running friends are out killing fall marathons, I'm learning to be content with whatever I can do right now. Although I do have the itch to train for another marathon.

Someday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wazzzuppp!

I've been remiss in posting here lately. I'm not sure I much new to say. I feel like it's the same old story, different day. I have runs that seem to go well, some that don't, and some that have not-so-pleasant after effects. I had one such run last Thursday. My Tuesday run was kind of a bummer (for a variety of reasons; mostly aches and pains OTHER THAN my usually offending heel), so what better way to erase that memory than to run a fast mile during Thursday's run! After a slow mile, I kicked it into gear and ran a 6:42 (very fast for me at my current fitness level), then finished off with a slow mile. It hurt bad, but it was satisfying. Unfortunately, it hurt bad in a different way the next two days. My recently bothersome right knee was very angry, along with my right Achilles and parts of my right foot (ironically, the heel itself seems to be dormant recently). In fact, I had shooting pains coupled with tightness on either side of that knee all day Friday (lots of ice). Consequently, I bailed on my Saturday morning club run.

So what now? There are days when I feel like my comeback is eminent, and others when I'm ready to walk away from this sport for good. I hate wallowing in self-pity (and really don't want to drag others down with me), but it's so incredibly frustrating. There's another doctor I've been wanting to see, and I know I need an MRI on my knee (I had one in '97, and it showed damage way back then), but my running injuries are turning into a money pit that I can't afford to keep financing.

I know, I didn't answer my own question. I guess I don't have a concrete answer at this point. I guess it could be as simple as continuing with the swimming program, and also working on my cycling. If I can just bag the idea of running fast and far for awhile and focus any hard efforts on the swimming (and possibly cycling), that might be the course I'm stuck with.

It's times like these I wish I didn't love running so much.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Natalie's First "Official" Meet

Now that my daughter Natalie is a 7th grader, she can finally compete in cross-country races this year. Today she ran her first meet. She's been battling a very sore heel (sound familiar?) but said it doesn't hurt while she's running. Apparently it didn't hurt before the race, either (but it did after).

How did she do? Very well! She finished 6th of 36 girls, and 2nd of 8 on her team. On the 1.5 mile course, she ran a 12:06 (8:04 pace, I think). She paced herself well. She was in about 12th place at the half-way mark. She also passed 3 girls in the last 200 meters. As always, I'm very proud.

Here are a couple of videos. Please excuse her overly enthusiastic dad in the finish line video...

video

video




Saturday, September 24, 2011

Upswing

Since my last post ("Tired"), my body has actually bounced back a little. Maybe that post was cathartic. I ended the week with a total of 6 endurance workouts: 3 runs, 2 swims and a bike ride, plus some weights & calisthenics.

The swims are still pretty slow, but I'm starting to feel better in the pool. I swam 2000 yds on Monday (20 x 100yds; 30 sec rest), then 1500 yds on Friday (10 x 150yds; 40 sec rest). The ride went pretty well, although my right knee was sore for the last 5 miles. Monday's run was a slow HR run, but my Thursday and Saturday runs were surprising. Thursday was 3 miles with a fast middle mile (6:54), and this morning, mile 4 (of 4.27) was 7:28...so I'm testing the wheels just a little. I'm still not ready to blast out a fast overall run (I can tell I can't yet sustain a fast pace beyond just a mile or so). Unlike a few days ago, my energy levels seemed to be up by the end of the week.

One concern I have is for my daughter Natalie. Her right heel has been hurting (sound familiar?) As soon as she complained about it this morning, we cut her run short, and I continued on for a bit. When we got home, she was introduced to the ice pack. She nearly ripped it off her foot after a minute or so, but stuck with it for 12 minutes (I've iced so much the last few years that I hardly even notice it anymore. It feels good to me.) She has her first cross-country meet next Wednesday, so I told her to let her coach know if her heel hurts at her next practice. I've been working with her on her form, but she still overstrides and heel-strikes. I'm hoping it's just a bone bruise and not the start of a fracture. I certainly don't want her to go through anything close to what I've had to endure. If she has to miss part, or all, of the season, I'd prefer that to a potential long-term injury. Fingers crossed.

So with that, I bid you adieu. I'm looking forward to a good training week ahead. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tired

I'm starting to transition into my cross-training (sprint tri-training) program. I swam 2000 yds on Monday, ran 4 miles yesterday and biked 20 miles today (with 3 more workouts left this week). I'm pooped, and my legs are shot. I think part of the reason is lack of sleep. I work at home and have rarely gotten out of bed before 6:30am. Now that we have an 8-week old puppy, I've been getting up at 5:00am to let him out. I try to go to bed earlier, but I don't always sleep well when I do.

That issue aside, it seems like my body isn't as willing to gracefully adapt to the activities I'm giving it. This is my 8th week of 3 short runs per week. I know that's not enough running to really make a big cardio-vascular change in my body (especially when I was used to 45 miles of running per week prior to the injury), but there are a lot of days where I just feel old and beat up. Not every day is like that, and not every workout leaves me feeling that way, but it certainly seems harder to come back from an injury each time I'm forced to do so.

But, that said, I shall NEVER give up! My dream is still to run regularly again, and to run another marathon (or eight)...and to PR (BQ?). Given my injury-prone body, that might be wishful thinking. But giving up on that wish would be worse than trying and failing. So...steady as she goes. Maybe patient & smart training will eventually lead me there again. And if not, I'll go down fighting.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Post-Race Photo and "Video"

Here's the speedy daughter with her "hat-headed" dad:


And here's a quick video. She was smiling at first, until she realized I was shooting video instead of a photo. I guess these running stars can get a bit uppity about video interviews...

video

More Hardware

No, not for me. I just finished pacing Natalie in her first 5k. The weather was perfect (upper 50's), and the rain held off. She was hoping to break 30 minutes. I knew she'd crush that, and she did — 26:58 (8:35 pace). She easily won her age group (it was a small race; around 100 people total. So that's 2 road races, 2 age group wins. Wish I could do that!)

I wanted us to run each mile faster, and we did (9:00, 8:51, 8:08, 6:57 pace for the last .14). She complained a couple of times, but she stayed strong. She smoked the last half mile or so. BTW, her pace here was faster than her pace in the 2-mile race we ran last November. Which, after her XC season, will be our next race together — a return to the Fowl Fun Run 2-miler. She'll be in a new age division (she's 12; it's 12-15, I think), so it'll be tougher competition, but I'm pretty sure she'll still do well. Sub-16? I think she can do it! After that, the Candy Cane Dash 5k in early December.

Needless to say, I couldn't be prouder of her. I'll post a photo soon.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"A Gift"

Last night, my wife and I went to our oldest daughter's middle school for Curriculum Night. We got to meet her teachers & find out what they'll be working on this school year. When we met her PE teacher, he didn't immediately place our daughter's name (he's been at it for a long time, and has about 200 kids in his classes this year). As we were chatting, it finally dawned on him who Natalie is. His eyes lit up when I told him she was running cross country for the second year in a row. I told him we had run together this summer. He talked about how hard she works in PE and how happy he was that she was in XC, saying he thought she has "a gift." Well, I'm not sure how a "gift" is defined in this context, but ol' Dad felt a little pride swell up when he said that. I told Natalie what her PE teacher said when we got home. I hope it doesn't put too much pressure on her!

Oh...and I happened to read something she's working on for one of her classes. In a paragraph talking about the lifestyle she enjoys, she says, "I love running. It frees you."

Daddy's gotta stop now before he can't see the computer screen...

8-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Video News

While I'm on the subject of humorous videos (see previous post), I thought I'd make a little announcement.

I just posted a new humorous video (also below), starring new character Dr. Gunter Weiskrak on my newly created comedy page, on youtube. My other video pages (Gil and Resurrected Runner) are still up, but I plan on using the main comedy site as a central location for a large variety of my videos. Thanks for watching. Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gil Flashback

It's been a year since our friend Gil interviewed me. If you've seen this, feel free to ignore it. If you haven't seen it, I URGE YOU to ignore it. You'll thank me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's Like Having Another Baby!

And I'm not talking "food baby," although that can be a traumatic experience as well. I'm talking about a puppy. Those cute, cuddly, lovable little bundles with sweet little eyes and wagging tails.

Yeah, all that...along with nighttime crying, chewing, biting, messing in their crates (and sometimes the floor), the need for constant attention...wow.

But he's a keeper. We got him last Monday and named him Apollo. He's a pure-bred yellow lab. He will be my running buddy in a year or so (fingers crossed). My kids love him. My wife...eh, she's not an animal lover. She pretty much got overruled on this one. But...and she admits it...he's grown on her already. (But I get stuck doing ALL the dirty work)

Needless to say, my schedule has been revised by necessity. I did manage to get a run in both Tuesday and Thursday and, with tomorrow's run, I will have my first double-digit mileage week this year. I never thought I'd be celebrating a weekly distance that used to be ONE routine run...but I am. And I went "long" on Thursday, with a 4.5 mile run. I did miss my scheduled swims, but I got in an hour bike ride today.

I'll leave you with some pics of our new addition. Have a great weekend!




Monday, August 29, 2011

A Little Sad...and A New Plan

Let me touch on the "sad" part first. If you've suffered through my posts lately, you'll know that I've been running exclusively with my oldest daughter, Natalie, the last few weeks. The reason has been two-fold: to help her prepare for her upcoming 7th grade cross-country season, and to force me to hold back as I return to running from a pretty serious heel injury. It has worked very well (in my opinion, anyway). But alas, like all good things, it now comes to an end. Natalie is still over a week away from starting school, but her team will have "conditioning" workouts every day this week, starting tomorrow. I'll miss my running partner. There's still a chance we can run together when my club meets on Saturday mornings, assuming she's still willing to get up early for it. We'll also run a couple of road races together, so all is not lost. Still, it's sad. I really enjoyed those runs with her. As I mentioned before, it'll be a challenge to reign myself in in her absence.

Now, on to my new Plan of Action! I've put it out there that I will do a sprint triathlon next year. I'm already working up a rough training schedule for the next few months. Here's what I'm thinking (subject to change, of course):

MON: run (intervals)
TUE: swim, weights
WED: run (easy)
THU: bike (short, hard)
FRI: swim, weights
SAT: run (long-ish)
SUN: bike (easy, long-ish)

I'm not to the detail stage yet, so I'm not sure about times and distances. This plan doesn't give me a complete day off, which may be an issue. One thing I do know is that I won't be doing anything particularly long, as I'll be training for a sprint distance. As with most of us "pure" runners, swimming is my biggest nemesis, and will probably require the most work. Fortunately, I've got several swim-savy friends in my local running club who can show me the ropes. I may ease into this program by doing fewer workouts per week for a couple of weeks. I may start doing a "brick" workout once a week as the race approaches.

Although I'd rather be running a bunch of miles, I'm starting to get excited about the variety of such a program. Here's hoping my heel holds up, and no new injuries appear (i.e. that I don't push myself too hard!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wow, I Was Ticked!

First, let me say that I'm approaching a dangerous time as a runner. The last few weeks of short, relatively show runs has me feeling like a caged tiger, knowing he's going to be set free soon. The cage door is being unlocked, and the tiger is ready to bolt to freedom. No, I'm not suddenly 100% injury-free, but I've run enough with minimal (or no) pain lately that just that little taste has me eager to bust out a longer, faster run...or ten. I've been here before (as many of you probably have), and it takes a LOT of discipline for me to hold back. I'll continue to do my best in that department. What will be even harder is when my daughter, who I've been running with, goes back to school. I'll then be left to run on my own most of the time. Talk about will power! I'll have to keep the memory of NOT BEING ABLE to run at all fresh in my mind.

Speaking of not being able to run, here's a little gem I found while going through old video files. This was from September of 2010; nearly a year ago. I was in the initial stages of life without ANY running. While I honestly don't remember recording this, I remember the feeling quite well (I'm well beyond it, thankfully). While I was trying to be funny, the sentiment was real. A happy camper I was not.

video

Monday, August 22, 2011

She's Ready To Fly

As you probably know, I've been running exclusively with my oldest daughter (entering 7th grade) the last few weeks. Our first of 3 weekly runs has included some interval work. Today I decided to mix it up and run a mile time trial on the road, so we can get a feel for where she's at before school (and cross-country season) starts in less than 2 weeks.

After a 1/2 mile warmup, we took off — me keeping an eye on the Garmin as we ran so I could monitor our average pace. She was hoping to go sub-8:00. I knew she could go a good deal faster than that. We ended up at 7:37. She finished strong. I think she had a sub 7:30 in her.

Her track PR for the mile earlier this year was 7:21. I don't have any doubt that she'll blow that away during XC season (they run a mile time trial early in the season), and she'll likely go sub-7 next spring during track season.

I've been emphasizing to her that her biggest limitation is her mind. That said, I'm not willing to push her close to what I feel her limit is currently. This has to be an enjoyable and positive process for her. But I always tell her she can go farther and faster than she thinks she can.

Another fun aspect to today's run was running with my youngest daughter after my run with Natalie. Yesterday, I bought Lindsey a running outfit she's had her eye on and she was eager to try it out. We ran a comfortable .6 miles. She asked me if she could run with me a lot more when she gets to be Natalie's age. How could I turn that down? Fun times as a dad, to see both girls interested in running. If they stay interested and stick with it, there's no limit to what they can achieve as runners.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

3 Weeks and All is Well

I just finished my third week of 3 runs per week...all with my oldest daughter. My heel has felt fine, for the most part. I still feel a little soreness when going uphill. Our weekly runs are mostly flat, with exception of a long, gradual hill on our Saturday morning run. I might need to make an adjustment there...but even that soreness isn't as bad as what I was experiencing a few months ago. Of course, NO soreness would be preferable, but I'll take what little progress I can get, at this point.

We've got about two and a half weeks until school starts again, so we'll keep plugging away as we've been doing. Short intervals on Tuesday, medium-pace run on Thursday, and long(ish) and slow on Saturday, for a very modest 7-8 miles per week. Obviously my fitness won't go through the roof on such a program, but once I start swimming again (and cycling, once I get new shoes to replace the one I destroyed), I'll start improving my cardio fitness, to go along with the strength I've built with weight training.

So overall, I'm content with how things are going. Hopefully the gradual progress will continue.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A New Challenge

Since I already put this out on my running club's Facebook page, I'll make it public here as well: I'm officially training for a sprint triathlon. No, it's not earth-shattering news, nor is it an epic event. I was inspired by following several of my clubmates online as they competed in the Lake Stevens 70.3 triathlon.

Aside from that, it just makes sense for me to do this. I'm goal-oriented (almost to a fault), and having something like this to train for will force me to cross-train, rather than succumbing to the temptation to run too much, too often, too soon. I mentioned in a previous post how my heart just wasn't into swimming and cycling as much as the running. Part of that was due to not having a goal that involved those activities. This will take care of that.

I know that most able-bodied people can complete a sprint triathlon with pretty minimal training, but I want to start small, for two reasons. First, I want to see if I actually enjoy triathlons and, second, I have a tendency to overdo things the bigger they are. In other words, a sprint isn't a "grand scale" event in comparison to an Ironman, a 70.3, or even an Olympic distance. I can keep my training short and sweet.

As for what race and when, I haven't decided yet. I'm looking at sometime late June or early July of 2012. That will give me more than enough time to prepare, and to make sure my injury allows me to train for it.

Aside from that, my daughter and I are signed up for a local 5k next month. We'll also be running a little 2-mile race in November (which we did together last year), as well as possibly another 5k in early December.

So...let the fun begin!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It Ain't Much, But It's Progress!

I just wrapped up my second consecutive week of 3 runs per week. Didn't go far (14 miles combined), nor fast (about 9:50/mile average), but despite a couple of times when my heel & Achilles let me know they were there, I was encouraged.

All runs were with my daughter, who is starting to get ready for her cross-country season. Last year (her first year), she went into the season totally unprepared & came home sore and exhausted the first week or two. This year, she'll be much more ready. So this plan is working perfectly for both of us. I get to gradually work myself back into a minimal running program at an easy pace, and my daughter gets to improve her fitness going into XC season. We're even doing a bit of "speed work" on Mondays.

Now, if I can get motivated to cycle and swim, I'll have a more rounded endurance-training program. Still hitting the weights 3 days/week, but I'm itching to build up my cardio fitness once again.

So, I guess to summarize, I'm happy with how things are going at this point. I ain't the runner I once was, but at least I'm running!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ragnar Relay NW Passage 2011 Video

Here is this year's video submission for our Ragnar Relay team. If you saw last year's video, you'll notice that this is a completely different concept. Last year's video won "best video," and thus we got a free entry for this year's race. We're hoping for the same again this year.

Like last year, I wrote, directed & produced this year's submission. The difference this year is that I thought it would be great to get some of the other team members to do some acting. The concept is a Ken Burns-style documentary, forty years in the future, looking back (completely inaccurately) on the 2011 race. While I've only directed myself in the past, these guys did a great job. Some needed more "coaxing" than others, but to be fair, I did put them on the spot ("here's the clothing, here are your lines...NOW ACT!) I got in there as a German Ragnar historian. No, I couldn't just stay behind the camera.

So, without further adieu, here it is:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Pattern, A Groove...but Not A Rut (I hope)

I survived a three-run week last week. First time since May. I just finished my first run of this week today, which included 3 quick interval segments. The heel held up okay. Got ice on it right now.

All of these runs have been with my oldest daughter (going into 7th grade). While I miss the 45 mile weeks and my own speed & tempo sessions, being able to run with my daughter (so far), at her pace, has been really enjoyable for me. While I'm determined to NOT make her my "project," it's fun to see her develop as a runner.

So, for the time being, this will be my pattern. I'll lift weights 3x per week and run 3x per week. Hoping to fit in some cycling (did a family ride over the weekend in which I broke one of my cycling shoes) and, perhaps, some swimming once again, as I quit doing that for the summer when the the pool changed their lap schedules.

It would be nice if I'm able to slowly build up some mileage and speed using this approach. I may never be a 40+ mile/week runner again without having surgery, but I'm going to see what I can do on limited mileage and frequency. Something tells me I'll get the urge to run more/farther/faster before long and choose to go under the knife. Who knows. But for now, I'll stick to this little groove I'm currently in & enjoy running some miles with my daughter.

Oh, full disclosure — I quit seeing my sports doc for the time being. The last several visits went something like this:

Doc: "Let's look at the heel. Looks good. How does it feel?"
Me: "Oh, not too bad. A little discomfort from time to time."
Doc: "Well, keep doing what you're doing. 3 runs per week. Short & slow. And do your heel raises."
Me: "Okay"
Doc: "I'll see you again next month."

There were many consecutive visits identical to that. I figured that, unless things change, why make a co-pay every month for the same thing?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm Baaaack (sort of...)

Hey, I actually just ran 2.7 miles with oldest daughter! 1 mi easy warmup, 2x.2 mi @ 8:20 pace (w/.2 mi recovery btwn), 1.1 mi cooldown. Trying to get my daughter ready for 7th grade XC, and trying to get us BOTH in shape for a 5k next month. No noticeable pain in my heel, knock on wood.

I'm still lifting weights, although I've slacked a bit, thanks to some vacation time, lots of landscaping work (hey, that's a workout, too!) and a pretty busy work schedule. My plan for the next month (at least) is to shoot for 3 runs a week to go along with the weights. They won't be long runs, but I will try to throw in some "speed" (as it relates to my daughter's pace) here and there.

I'm also working on a new video for my club's Ragnar team. Wasn't able to run it this year, but I volunteered. Our video won last year, and I'm trying to continue that trend. This year's version is completely different from last year's. I'll post a link here when it's ready.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Taking a Break

As I've tried a bit of running the past couple of months, I've still felt a bit of discomfort around my heel. I could keep running a little here and there with the hopes of the heel gradually adapting. It might. Or, it might not. I may need surgery to fix the issue once and for all (assuming that does fix it). Then, I'm looking at several weeks on crutches, followed by several months of rehab. Currently, I can't wrap my brain around that, even though that may be the choice eventually.

So what am I doing in the meantime? Well, even though most of you know me as a runner, I've had multiple personalities (as it relates to fitness) for many years. I've shifted gears back to weight lifting. I'm actually enjoying it. As is both my strength and occasional downfall, I've thrown myself into it quite seriously (see photo below of me during Ragnar last July, compared with me now).
Dang, was I THAT scrawny?!
I gotta say, my wife likes hugging me without feeling like she's about to break me.

Don't be sad, fellow runners. I'm not done as a runner just yet. I've done this before. Gotten injured from running, backed off, switched my focus to strength training, got the hankering to run again, started over. It may not be the best approach to running, but with my injury history, it gives me a chance to work on something else I enjoy while not dwelling on something I can't do at the time.

Why not hit the bike or pool more? To be completely honest, my heart's just not into it. I'll do both to some degree, but as recreation rather than serious training. I have a love for the simplicity of running that I can't seem to replicate on the bike nor in the pool.

Of course, everything I've just said is subject to change. But these are my current feelings. Yes, I'm one fickle dude.

So, for now, I'm just a 'muscle-head.' I still hope to run a couple of 5k's with my daughter this year. It'll just be with a quirky heel, minimal training, and 25 additional lbs. on my frame!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Update

I guess I should post an update, for anyone interested in the doings of a gimpy semi-runner.

I've been swimming once a week and enjoying it. Would like to get to the pool more often, but my schedule hasn't allowed for it yet. I swam a mile earlier this week. I took 30 second rests after every 2 laps (100 yds). My endurance in the pool is slowly improving, and I'm actually enjoying it.

I feel guilty that I haven't been outside on the bike much yet (okay, only ONCE). I've been doing some indoor spinning, but since spring has finally shown up here in the Pacific Northwest, I'll be rolling down the roads soon. I'm tentatively planning on doing the bike leg of an Olympic distance triathlon later this summer. I guess I've got my work cut out for me.

On the running front, I'm still progressing ever so slowly. I'm up to two miles of actual running now (no run/walks lately), but I'm running slowly (usually with my oldest daughter), and hills are still a no-no...as I found out this morning. I ran an easy two on some rolling hills and my heel is mad at me, as opposed to the flat two-miler I ran earlier this week. I'm sticking with no more than 3 of these runs per week.

I'm also lifting weights 2-3 times per week and getting a lot stronger. Granted, not much of my weight lifting relates directly to running, but I feel stronger overall, and even though I'm 22 lbs. heavier than my "race weight," I notice that my core and glutes feel more powerful, even during these short, slow runs. Plus, my wife likes my current "buff-ness."

So, I'm making haste slowly. I'm in no hurry, which is a new mindset for me. I'm not the most patient person in the world, and I still long for some long, fast runs (especially when I see my running friends doing so), but I'm going to enjoy the process and hopefully get to where I can be a "real" runner again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Contingency Plan

My friend & fellow running blogger Mark and I had a recent email exchange. As always, his comments are both encouraging and thought-provoking. We talked about...what else...running. But we also got into dealing with my inability to run and how to fill the void that it has left (and might continue to leave for some time).

There's an addiction component to endurance training, or there can be. In my case, there was/is. After more than 5 months of no running (until my recent run/walk sessions), I think I've mostly broken the addiction (and have made my way through the stages of grief, which I've posted about before). With that said, I still love running, and miss it.

What will I do about this (aside from putting on weight...yes, the abs are gone)? I think I have a contingency plan that's simple. And it might work, for the time being, anyway.

I recently started swimming again, after about a 16 year layoff. I swam for awhile during a period of no running back in 1995. Today was my second swim. I'm not fast. I don't have much endurance yet. But I'm actually enjoying it. I like how refreshed I feel afterward.

I also started cycling outdoors again. Thanks to our colder and wetter-than-normal spring (and me being a fair-weather cyclist), I've only got one outdoor ride under my belt, with another coming this week. Those will increase.

I'm still lifting weights three days per week. Pretty heavy weights (for me), actually. I've bulked up considerably in the upper body. When I was running a lot of miles, that's where I'd drop it first. And I'd look pretty darn gaunt and underfed. Not that I want to balloon up now, but it's kind of nice to fill out my shirts for a change.

So, that's the plan in a nutshell. Swimming, cycling, weights...and a little running, when the heel allows, hopefully building back up GRADUALLY the rest of this year. The variety should keep me injury free and strong. When the time comes to shift the focus to running (fingers crossed), I'll at least have plenty of strength and some aerobic fitness to draw from.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Podcast Theme Songs

Since I've shamelessly pimped my running parody songs on this site numerous times, you know that music is one of my hobbies. I'm an amateur, to say the least, but I enjoy playing and recording when time allows, and when the mood strikes.

You also may know that I've recorded some theme songs for a few running-related podcasts.  If you produce a podcast and would like a custom theme song, hit me up! Below, you can listen to three recent ones (two for Run, Run, Live and one for Early Morning Cruizin')

Friday, May 13, 2011

Scolded...A Little

I just returned from my latest visit with my sports medicine doctor. I told him that I've been having a little soreness in my heel and Achilles; kind of a dull, burning ache, off and on the last few weeks (more on than off lately). I gave him my run/walk report: three per week, with the longest being 3 miles (only once...but there have been a couple of two-mile jaunts). He recommended that I back off to 1.5 mile jaunts and hold steady there until the pain diminishes. It's the old routine of "doctor, it hurts when I do this..." with a reply of "well, don't do that." He asked if it had bothered me like this before I started the run/walk sessions a few weeks ago. No, it didn't.

So, when I told him of my tentative plan to do a sprint triathlon late this summer, he was a bit skeptical of the idea, saying that my heel will be fatigued coming off the bike and into a 5k run. I also admitted that I have so far been unable to participate in a race "just for fun" (with exception of pacing my daughter) without pushing it. With that said, I'll be playing it by ear (heel) to see if I'm relatively pain-free and able to bust out a 5k (with maybe a couple of brick workouts in training) before I commit to any triathlons.

However, I'm good to go with cycling and swimming, so at least I can build my aerobic fitness and be more ready when I'm good to run more.

Thus, 2011 looks to be a rehab and recovery year, with 2012 hopefully being a rebuilding year, with a return to competition. I still hold out hope that I can race to some small degree later this year, but not at the expense of delaying progress or re-injuring myself.

To end on a positive note, my 6th grade daughter continues to improve her running. For those of you I'm not "friends" with on Facebook, she brought her mile time down from 9:06 last October to 7:49 yesterday at track practice. She said she wasn't even going all-out. She was excited about it (as was I), and this should continue to build her confidence. She has her first and only track meet next Friday (6th graders only get to compete in one meet). Should be a fun time!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

26 Years Ago Today

...I ran my fastest 10k to date. It was called the Boeing Fun Run (long defunct) and I was coming off of my senior track season. I was coming off of several weeks of relatively low mileage, but had a lot of speedwork under my belt (my coach didn't believe in a lot of mileage during the season. In hindsight, it was TOO little). The race wasn't large. I don't have the numbers, but if I had to guess based on a foggy memory, I'd say between 500-1000 people.

I went out fairly quickly and was able to get into a pretty comfortable groove. I remember staying comfortable the entire race, not really pushing too much. I would settle in with a group of runners, see that their pace was a tad too slow, then move up to another group, then another.

"Do you have splits," you ask? Why, of course this anal-retentive record keeper has splits!

Mile 1- 6:10
Mile 2- 6:21
Mile 3- 6:18
Mile 4- 6:24
Mile 5- 6:21
Last 1.2- 6:16 pace

Total time: 39:06 (6:18/mi)

Impressive? Not really, especially for an 18-yr old guy coming off track season. I probably could have shaved close to a minute off of that had I been racing hard...which still wouldn't be too much to crow about. But at the time I had no idea that it would remain my PR all these years. Oh, to run that fast again.

Back to the present. I'm seeing my sports med doc again on Friday for our monthly visit. I've had some ups and downs with the heel since starting my run/walk program a few weeks ago. I put in 1.6 miles today and the heel felt okay. Yesterday, however, it was pretty cranky. This could be a pattern for awhile. We'll see...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thanks

Just a quick post to let those of you who purchased my parody songs this past month know that I just donated 50% of the proceeds to the Salvation Army, specifically for tsunami relief efforts in Japan. Thanks again for your purchases!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Most Awesome Awesomeness

My wonderful wife gave me a Valentine's Day gift. It was an unusual gift. It involved a two night getaway to a cozy cottage on the Wenatchee River, just outside of the quaint Bavarian-styled village of Leavenworth, WA. What's unusual about that? Well...it's a getaway for ME ONLY. It took me a couple of months to cash in on the gift, due to my workload. In fact, that's what the gift was all about – giving me a chance to decompress after 5 months of craziness with my business. At one point, I threw down a stretch of 40 days without a day off. Let me just say that I'm having a blast enjoying the scenery, solitude, and the hot tub on my deck overlooking the Wenatchee River, watching Osprey flying by in search of a juicy fish.

Nice, you say, but what does this have to do with running? Well, today I took advantage of the dirt & cinder trail by the river and got in my longest "run" in my current rehab cycle. It was two miles of a run/walk (1 min. each). It was incredibly satisfying, even aside from my compliant heel. During this run, I had a bit of a revelation. Not incredibly profound, but a moment of clarity about my immediate future as a runner. This ties in with my "Balance" mantra I wrote about at the beginning of this year. Running is still my passion (exercise-wise), and will remain so. But, knowing that I'm typically an "all-or-nothing" type of person, I'll be focusing much more on staying strong overall with a varied approach...and for the first time in awhile, I'm perfectly okay with that. In fact, I plan on building up, gradually, to a point where I test my speed in shorter races, using my approach of no more than three runs per week (along with a long bike ride and a swim, plus two days of weights). I wouldn't use this approach to train for a marathon (or even a half), but I won't be training for those anytime soon. I'm actually excited about this, whereas before I looked at it as a necessary evil in order to not re-injure myself (or not stay injured, as the case may be). I'm not there yet, but by later this year, I hope to start upping the intensity a bit, while moderating the volume and frequency of my runs.

So, unless it's the elation of this head-clearing getaway talking, I'm excited to see what happens!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting the Family Involved

When I first had to set the running shoes aside due to this injury, I was in a really bad place mentally. I had recently finished my first marathon, had run the Ragnar Relay last July (already injured) and was planning on training for my first 50k in October, followed by my first 50 miler a couple of weeks ago. Having to not only shelve those plans, but to stop running since November brought out a bunch of negative thoughts. It has literally taken months to change my outlook and attitude.

Now that I'm doing short run/walk sessions, I hope I'll be able to at least participate in a few races this year. I know, however, that truly racing them will be out of the question.

I have two daughters — one almost 12, and one 9-year old. The older one ran cross-country last fall and is currently running track (although as a 6th-grader, she's unable to run in all but one meet). My youngest plays basketball, but also enjoys running. You may remember that I ran a 2-mile fun-run with my oldest last November (my last run until my recent run/walks), in which she won her age group. Both girls routinely outrun nearly all other kids in the respective PE classes.

I had a lot of fun pacing my oldest last fall, but I know that if I was in top condition, I'd rather be running my own pace at nearly every race. So, since I have kids interested in running, and I can't currently push myself, what better opportunity to plan a couple of family-centric races! We'll all (maybe even my wife) run a local 5k in July, then we'll once again run that fun-run in November. My kids are really looking forward to it, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to do it with them, instead of being somewhat selfish and seeing what I can do, personally. Besides, it won't be too many years until both of them leave me in the dust anyway!

Sometimes we need to focus on turning lemons into lemonade. I admit I'm not good at it, but every once in a while I somehow get it done.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Human Express

I just watched a documentary on Universal Sports called Human Express. It's about ultrarunning legend Karl Meltzer's running of the Pony Express trail last fall. It's an hour long and pretty interesting. I wish no ill will toward Karno, but it's nice to see another ultrarunner getting some face time on TV. It airs again today. Check your local listings.

Speaking of other ultrarunning legends, Indulgence is also airing a couple of times (about Anton Krupicka). It looks like there are a few other good programs that are part of their Adventure April series, too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Regarding My Current Plan...and Oh Yeah, Some Little Race in New England

I saw my doctor again last Friday. He was kind enough not to comment on my recent weight gain (okay, it's not THAT bad...plus my wife likes me not being rail-thin). He was also kind enough to encourage me to continue with my walk/run program. I'll be doing three of them per week, sticking with ten minutes for each session for another week or two (alternating 1 or 2 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking). After 2-3 weeks at each time level, I can add 5 minutes per session, as long as my heel doesn't protest. He cautions against ramping up too much, too soon; preferring that I allow my heel to adjust to each level before adding more stress to it. At this point, I'm patient enough to do that. I shared with him that I have finally gotten to the final stage of grief: acceptance. When I first visited him, he said I may not be the type of runner who can knock out 2 or more marathons (or ultras) per year, and that I may have to incorporate cross-training more than I did last year (nearly zero). When I heard those words, I was still in the early stages of grief (denial) and inwardly flinched. Now...hey, that's cool. If I can put in a lot of running miles again someday, great. If not, hello bicycle and (ugh) pool, along with the running shoes (and probably hiking boots). I'd rather run a little for the rest of my life than run a LOT for a year or two, then get sidelined with a major injury.

Now, on to another relevant event in today's running news: the 115th Boston Marathon. Holy smokes, did those guys & gals tear up the course, or what! Yes, the weather was great. Yes, there was a tail wind...but hey, a 2:03:02 is still a 2:03:02. Kudos to the winners (Geoffrey Mutai & Caroline Kilel, both from...you guessed it, Kenya), and to Ryan Hall (4th, 2:04:58, AR), Desiree Davila (2nd, 2:22:38) and Kara Goucher (5th, 2:24:52, new mom). Way to rock it for the U.S. One of these days, we're going to win this race again!

Congrats also to many of you who ran Boston today. I won't try to list everyone, but I saw via Twitter that many of you had some amazing times, too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Small Step For Man...Well, That's About It

(as posted on Daily Mile)

What's this? A run? Well, a run-walk, to be precise. It's been five months almost to the day since I last ran. As per my doctor's orders, I alternated one minute of running with one minute of walking, for ten minutes.

Observations:
  1. Man, I'm out of shape!
  2. When I set my Garmin up to beep every minute, I found that my user profile weight was listed as 12 lbs. lighter than I am now (I've "bulked up" since my abs project).
  3. My heel felt okay, but I still noticed a little soreness. It'll be interesting to see how it feels the next couple of days.

Not sure if I'll attempt another run/walk before I see my doc on Friday. But it was good to get out there and run a few steps!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

If I can't run yet, I can certainly take a walk down (recent) memory lane.

It was a year ago this week that I logged my first ever 20 mile training run. At mile 11, the "skies opened up," so says my training log. I recall running in the most drenching rain & hailstorm I had ever run in, soaking every inch of me. I was frozen by the time I finished. I ran the last 10 miles nearly 1 minute per mile faster than the first 10 just to get out of the downpour. I could barely unlock my truck and stick the key in the ignition. I had trouble driving home due to the shivering. Ah, those were the days. I'm not lying when I say I'd LOVE to do that again.

Week 13 of last year was also my biggest mileage week ever (and still is) at 52.3 miles. I did have a 7 day stretch of 63 miles somewhere around that time, but it wasn't within my "weekly" parameters (Mon-Sun). In hindsight, I had just about peaked, since less than two weeks later I ran a 5-mile race (fast, by my standards), then paced a friend for the last 22 miles of a 50 mile ultra the next day. It's funny how you sometimes don't realize when you're at a decent fitness level until you're injured and haven't run in ages. I'd love to be in that kind of shape now.

I know it doesn't do any good to pine away for the "good ol' days," but recently I've started feeling the urge to run again. I admit that the urge faded some after being sidelined for so long. Maybe the change in seasons (not that we've seen much change here in the PNW) has rekindled my fire a bit. Still, I must proceed slowly & cautiously. My heel has responded fairly well to recent exercises, so I'm on course to attempt my first walk-run session in less than 2 weeks. It'll last all of 10 minutes, alternating a minute of slow running with a minute of walking. As silly as it might sound, I can't WAIT to do it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Song Purchases Will Help Relief Efforts in Japan

If you're interested in my goofy running-related parody songs and haven't yet purchased them, I'll be donating 50% of the proceeds to relief efforts in Japan from now until the end of April. Click on the PayPal buttons on the top right of the page (choose the first collection, second, or both). After your order is placed, the songs will be uploaded to you via Pando.

Thank you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Another Follow Up With The Doc

Hello, my name is Colin, and it's been 121 days since I've run a step.

Yes, I'm still here!

I had another visit with my sports med doc this morning. It went pretty much as expected. Due to the little setback I had a couple of weeks ago, I won't begin a 'walk/run' program for yet another month. I was progressing through the 'strengthening phase' of the program (heel raises; both concentric with both feet and eccentric on each foot, adding a daily set each week, up to 3x10 of each) when I started feeling a persistent, dull ache in my injured heel. I quit doing any heel raises for a week, the slowly started back this past week with no noticeable pain. Over the next four weeks, my goal is to get back to doing the full amount of daily sets of the raises with no pain. If that happens, I'll add three short run/walk sessions per week.

As I've said before, my doctor is very conservative in his approach. I struggled with this idea early on in this process, but have now completely come to terms with it. I look at running as a lifelong activity (hopefully), so rushing to get back to it and risking a complete relapse isn't worth it.

While my doctor hasn't said the "S" word* lately, that's still kicking around in the back of my noggin. It's definitely not off the table. I still have a fear that when I eventually become able to start building up mileage and intensity, I'll end up injured again, since this deformed heel isn't going to un-deform itself. But I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Fortunately, my work has been unbelievably busy, which has kept me distracted enough to not pine away for running TOO much (although the email notices from races I ran last year have been bumming me out a little).

That's it for now. Still sidelined, aside from lifting weights and riding a stationary bike (haven't ventured outdoors yet). Oh, I will begin walking more, though, as time allows (I haven't had a day off from work in 29 days, as I write this).

And to my fellow injured runners, recovery quickly (and smartly)!


* "surgery", not "sarcophagus"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Heel Update

I don't see my doctor again for another couple of weeks, but I thought I'd post about something other than my freakin' abs! Despite recent appearances, this is indeed a running-related blog, so here's wazzup regarding my injured heel.

I've been doing stationary cycling almost exclusively for my cardio training (along with weights, of course). Obviously no running yet, and not much walking, either (although I could do more walking than I do). Overall, my heel has responded well. But I've noticed a pattern. I occasionally get a dull ache in the injured area. It seems to happen after I've been wearing shoes for an extended period of time. Being that I work at home, I wear slippers around the house, which don't put any pressure on my heel. However, my regular tennis shoes, and even my running shoes when I've worn them somewhere, cause my heel to ache for sometimes a day or two afterward.

During one of my doctor visits, my doc commented that I probably wasn't a good candidate for Vibram 5-finger shoes. Given how regular shoes seem to aggravate my heel, I'm starting to wonder if he might be wrong. Biomechanically, I may have some issues...but if this permanent heel bump causes aggravation to my Achilles while wearing normal shoes, who knows? I may have to save up & give the VFFs a shot. Initially, I would just wear them around the house to see how my heel & Achilles responds, compared to my regular shoes.

Hmm...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Journey To The "Six-Pack" Now Complete

If you're so inclined, you can read my final summary and see final photos of my Chris K-inspired quest for six-pack abs here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

That Was The Problem

If you've been following my 6-pack ab travails, you remember how I mentioned I was nearly blacking out upon standing up, almost every time. I did a little research (and got some helpful comments from you guys) and came to the conclusion that I had dropped my sodium levels too low. Well, upon bumping it up (to around 1,000mg/day), I've learned that it was a correct conclusion. No more dizzy spells, no more near blackouts.

However, I've thrown a different wrench into my quest. I'm currently in a low carb phase, which is giving me some new challenges. First, I'll state that I'm NOT a big fan of a high protein, low carb diet (based on only 3 days of it so far). I constantly feel bloated (12 oz. of chicken per day, with insufficient roughage will do that), plus I'm dropping too much weight (which attests to the effectiveness of the Atkins & other similar diets). In addition, it's just not a sustainable diet. I'll try to stick with it for a couple more days, then shift back to a normal macronutrient balance before boosting carbs the last couple of days to replenish my glycogen stores (& hopefully make my muscles fuller) before I take final photos.

Chris K, why did I listen to you? You're laughing at my expense, aren't you?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sodium Concerns

[re-posted from my abs blog]

As I'm in wrapping up the first week of my stretch-drive diet, I have numerical data to analyze. This week, I've been eating about 1900 calories per day. My macronutrients look like this: protein — 28%, carbohydrates — 62%, fat — 10%.

I'm also tracking my sodium intake. Distance runners (or any endurance athletes that sweat) need a good amount of sodium. As a sidelined runner doing very little cardio work (i.e. not sweating much), I don't need as much. Through research, I know that bodybuilders drastically cut their sodium intake as they approach a contest, since this eliminates water retention which will blur muscle definition. With that in mind, I've been keeping my sodium intake low. Just how low I've been keeping it is becoming an eye opener.

I'm averaging about 550mg of sodium per day. I didn't think that was terribly miniscule until I researched what a "low sodium" diet entails. Some low-sodium diets to control high blood pressure suggest keeping sodium intake "as low as 1500-2000mg per day." Wow. I'm WAY below that. Average Americans consume a TON of sodium daily (not literally...but it's a lot!) The US RDA for sodium is under 2,400mg.

Why did I become interested in this number? Honestly, I've been blacking out and nearly fainting about every other time I stand up from a seated position. I believe my body might be in a hyponatremic state. The instances are becoming more frequent, so I'm suspicious that my low sodium intake may be causing it.

I've got two weeks until my final photos. Next week, I'll attempt to raise my sodium levels to around 1000mg per day to see if the dizzy spells & blackouts subside. In the few days leading up to my photos, I'll reduce the sodium back down. I think I may have jumped the gun!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ab Challenge Update, and a Big Congrats

I'm down to the final 3 weeks of my abs quest. They're going to be very challenging, but I think it's going to end well...as long as my wife doesn't kill me before then.

I'm sure it's being said on many a running blog across the interwebs, but I want to add my congratulations for the man who tortured challenged me to get a 6-pack, Chris K of BQ or Die fame, who did as his blog title suggests. No, not die, but BQ! After coming back from a fractured heel last summer, then working on his running form until he was blue in the face, busting out a BQ time in yesterday's Surf City marathon is very impressive. So Chris, again, congratulations! And I don't care what the inmates down at the corrections facility say about you, you're a manly man and a role model to us all. Long may you run fast and injury free.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another Visit With Doc — Moving Forward

I had another visit with my sports med doctor this morning in regards to the ongoing saga of my heel injury. It's been a good month, in regards to pain...or lack thereof. So, we're on to the next phase of his program, which is STRENGTHENING. I'll be doing various heel raises, daily, for the next several weeks in order to recondition and strengthen my calves and Achilles tendons. I've also been given the go-ahead to notch up the intensity of my rides (and can actually ride outdoors now on a flat course, weather permitting). No running yet. I meet with him again in 6 weeks where, hopefully, he'll okay some very short & easy running.

Numbers-wise, here's how January panned out:

Runs: 0
Running Miles: 0
Outdoor cycling: 0
Cardio (on Schwinn Airdyne): 243 min.
Pushups: 980
Pull-ups: 438
Sit-ups: 955
Dips: 609
Squats: 484
Weight workouts: 10 / 312 min.

Body weight since Jan 1: -7.2 lbs.
Waist, since Jan 1: -1.1"

I'm in the stretch drive with my Chris K induced Ab quest, with both positive and challenging results.

So that's where things stand. Rehab has been a long, slow process, and my patience is certainly being tested, but I've committed to buying into my doctor's program, since I've seen no reason not to. But that means s-l-o-w-l-y getting back into the running game. Currently, the only race on my schedule this year is the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay, in late July. While I won't be in top shape by then, I hope to have enough training behind me to at least help out the team, and not kill myself in the process.

Cheers!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gil's Happy Birthday Video

Gil gets personal with this little video for his sister's 40th birthday, sharing a story, along with reassurances that they's lots of things 40+ years old that's doin' just fine. Nobody can say ol' Gil ain't got a soft heart under that tough exterior!

Chris K, since it's your birthday today as well (you only wish it was the big 4-0), consider this a birthday greeting to you, too! Ol' Gil's pretty generous that way.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gil Relates The Story of His First Race

Ol' Gil called Brandon's podcast recently to relate the story of his first runnin' race. Fortunately, he survived...and actually won!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Manly Giveaway!

Been crazy here at Resurrected Runner headquarters, thus the lack of posts lately. There are some forthcoming...including our good buddy Gil.

Until then, I wanted to mention a pretty cool "Manly Giveaway" on Chris K's "BQ or Die" blog. Go leave a comment, grunt, and maybe let loose with a bodily noise. Fun stuff!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Little Report On...What Else? Le Heele!

I've been talking about my injured heel for so long that it has become an entity all its own. I suppose I should name him (my youngest daughter is the perfect person for that task). He has a personality. Some days, he's cranky and irritable. Other days, he's chipper and ready for the day's challenges. Still others, it's a roller-coaster ride. I truly try to appease him and meet his every need, but I can only do so much. Personally, I think he needs to get out more.

After some soreness last week, he's been pretty agreeable the last few days. I'm still lifting weights 3x per week and riding my Schwinn Airdyne 3 days per week, so I haven't changed my routine. I hope there's an adaptation happening.

My next move, cardio-wise, will be to visit the pool. Upon visiting, I may actually consider getting in and swimming. We'll see. Also, when the doc says it's okay to bike outdoors (he doesn't want me pushing big gears or up hills, and there are many hills around here), I'll do that, too (brrrrrr). Hey, I bought a new helmet, so at least I'll look a little cooler than I did while wearing my 1948 bike helmet!

Finally, to all of you who just completed the Goofy Challenge (and associated races), congratulations! Sounds like it was great weather this time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

DOCTOR VISIT, HEEL UPDATE

I just returned for my monthly check-in with my sports med doc. Since I saw him last month, I've been doing 20 minute spins on my Schwinn Airdyne two to three times per week (along with weight training). The way my heel has felt after those rides varies. Some days it's fine. Other times, it aches for a couple of days. This is one of those days (I rode yesterday). The doctor didn't seem alarmed by that. He said that sometimes it takes time for the injured area to adapt to even light training. He was pleased with what he saw (no swelling), so the plan until next month's visit is to continue with my current approach, along with adding in a weekly swim (pushing lightly off the walls with my good foot). No walking on the treadmill yet.

We discussed the time table for this process and he said the key word was patience. He liked my analogy of how someone doesn't get fat overnight, and consequently don't lose the weight overnight. He said the fact that I've basically had this injury for 7 months and continued to run on it for a while means it's going to improve very gradually, assuming it does improve. If it's still about the same by next month, we'll stay in a holding pattern. If it does improve, we'll move to the next phase of his plan — strengthening (and stretching). If it gets worse (and if it bothers me even during daily activities), then we'll go the surgery route.

No matter the course, this is going to be a long-term rehab process. I guess it's a good thing I didn't make “RUN LIKE A MANIAC” my phrase for 2011. It looks like it could be quite some time before I run again. I will, though. Count on it.

And I promise I don't hate all of you while you're out running, pain-free, training for your goal races. I'll just pretend I'm looking at me as I see you running by (especially if you're running REALLY fast, with perfect form).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Balance, Cont'd

To follow up on yesterday's tease, Balance is the word I'm focusing on in 2011. I'm not a big resolution guy, but I always set goals for myself.

After putting all my eggs in the ‘running basket’ last year (until my injury, anyway), this year will be a transition year for me. I'll be focusing my athletic efforts over a wider spectrum. Basically, I'll be training more for general fitness and less as a hard-core runner. Cross-training will be de rigueur (aren't I fancy?) this year. I've been hitting the strength training pretty hard the last few months. Depending on whether I'll go under the knife for my heel or not, I'll continue with that (on a reduced level), along with more cycling, walking, hiking and swimming (maybe).

It's probably obvious why I'm going this route in 2011. I will always identify myself as a runner before any other athletic designation. I plan on being a runner the rest of my life, so being patient is more important than if I were training for one major event, then retiring. That said, I'm focusing my efforts this year on getting into, and staying in, good physical condition until I can transition back into being the runner I'd like to be.

When I started running again in 2009, I did a good deal of cycling that year (mostly because I was training for the bike leg of a triathlon). I didn't run a ton of miles, but I was injury free the entire year. When I'm cleared to do so, that will be my mindset this year. Loosely, my plan will be 2-3 days per week of cycling, 2-3 days per week of running, 2 days per week of strength training (not incl. daily bodyweight exercises), with any of these being substituted with hiking, swimming or other outdoor pursuits. Staying with a consistent routine will be the key.

If I end up having surgery, I'll just do what I can until my rehab is complete. I still plan on running some races this year. If and when I train for them, I'll probably base my training plan on the Furman First program, and continue to cross-train. No, I won't be a great runner this year, but I'm looking toward future years, after my body is healed and ready.

I'm also instituting the Balance philosophy in my personal life (less TV, more books, less computer, more family time, less processed sugar, more fruit & veggies, less politics, more drawing & painting, less stress, more music...you know, the standard stuff).

I'm excited to see what I can accomplish physically in 2011, even with limited running. Maybe 2012 will be a more running-centric year. We'll see.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Word for 2011

Balance.

Been a busy weekend. More elaboration later...