Back in the saddle again

ORN: No running, but I did 11.4 miles on the bike. I took it pretty easy, but my legs still felt pretty sluggish, and my knee and Achilles were constant reminders that I definitely do not want to rush things just yet. I'm holding off until the 1st - then I start running again. Until then, I just don't want to lose any fitness.

Nothing major really happened today. We went to the Y, I ran, the son played with the other kids, we went to the library, and came home. It's not a terribly interesting day.

I am hoping to put some pics up from the marathon. I just need to get them off the camera, and have some of them sent to me. Maybe this weekend or so, if I get the chance.



ORN: Took today off too. Did some light yardwork, and ran a couple of errands. Knee and Achilles feel well enough that I plan on biking tomorrow.

One of my errands today was grocery shopping. Normally, this is something that the son and I do, once or twice per week, and he generally keeps me honest. After all, you pick up habits, both good and bad, while you are young, and I'd like for him to have healthful habits like exercising and eating right.

Tonight he was not with me, and I am in what appears to be a fairly normal post-marathon frame of mind. My next marathon is almost a full year off, and although I plan on running a half or two before then, I'm not really "in training" for anything. This means that I can indulge - and, given the time of year, Halloween candy was looking mighty good. So were chips, dip, beer, soda, etc.

Now, to be fair to me, not everything was bad. I loaded up on fresh produce, rice, breads, cheeses, chicken and so forth, but far more of this grocery bill was pure, unadulterated junk. Part of it I can rationalize as daily rewards for NaNoWriMo (which starts on the 1st), and some of it was just because I felt that I could break "training" a little.

I'll still eat well - fruits and veggies will be most snacks, but for the next few of weeks, I'm going to allow myself more junk food than normal. All things in moderation. . . including moderation.

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Rest, recovery, and REVENGE

ORN: None yet. I took today off, to give my knee and my Achilles time to heal up a bit. I failed to mention that in my last post - I woke up Monday morning, and my Achilles tendon was sore. Not in a post-long run kind of way, but a "You did something stupid, and now you must pay for it" kind of way.

Anyway, the general wisdom is that you have to forget about the pain and suffering of your previous marathon before signing up for the next one. Sod that - I'm already planning my revenge on the Chicago marathon for next year. Due to some scheduling issues (like, having a newborn right about the beginning of the spring marathon season), I'll only get one long race in next year - so that's going to be it. (Actually, I could squeeze in another marathon somewhere here in Michigan, but I want to focus on the Windy City instead.) 2008 will see me doing the Goofy Challenge, Detriot and probably one or two more, but 2007 is only going to have one real race for me.

So, I am planning out a training schedule. I am reading up on speedwork again, and planning more routes with hills, and some rougher terrain. If I can handle a decent pace on a biking trail, then no stupid manhole cover is going to stop me!

I'm not going to claim that Chicago in 07 will make me Boston bound or anything silly like that. But I intend to improve on the pace I was doing at the half, and hold it the whole way through. It's going to be tough, but I can do it.


A bittersweet marathon experience.

Remember how, at the end of my last post, I said that my race report may be simply:

"Ouch. That sucked. My time was X:XX:XX."

I kinda want to say that, and only that. My chip time was 3:46:59, per the still unofficial results page. This is why the race is only bittersweet:

8:01:44 AM CST 0:24:27 0:48:11 1:12:59 1:37:37 1:42:57

2:03:51 2:30:40 3:01:11 3:34:13 3:46:59

If you look at it, you can see that I have pretty good times through the 25k mark, and then they go rapidly downhill. I go from tracking at a 3:25 pace (and I figured, with a slight slowdown for an eventual 3:30). to my actual finishing time. Here's what happened:

Sometime after the halfway mark, around mile 14 or 15, I was dodging another runner, and my left leg came down off-center, on one of those recessed manhole covers. I felt it twist slightly, and an (unfortunately all too familiar) twinge went through my kneecap. I slowed down a bit, and kept careful watch on my knee. It was bothering me a bit for the first couple of miles, and by mile 19, I had to pull into one of the medical tents. I wanted some topical, quick-acting painkiller, figuring that if I could numb the pain a tad, I could still manage a 3:35 or 3:40 - I know that the knee needed rest soon, but with only a few miles to go, I knew also that I could make it. Instead, I got Tylenol. I kept going, with intermittent stops to keep stretching and doing little massages of my knee.

That got my as far as mile 23. Mile 23 found me in another aid tent, this time asking for an ace bandage. I wrapped my knee, and basically managed to get myself through the finish line, with massive cramps running up and down my legs - the kind where first your quads sezie up, and then your calves. It wasn't due to dehydration, or the wall, it was due to the extra effort needed to maintain a stride and pace that wasn't going to further injure my knee. I wasn't really aware of the time by that point - I have splits for those miles (I think), and it wasn't until afterwards, when I met up with my family, that I found my unofficial time.

So, this race had the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good is that, right up until the knee went, I felt great - strong and confident. I made a new PR for a marathon (shaving 1:17 of my previous attempt), and a new PR for a half-marathon as well (shaving 52 seconds off my previous best). My splits were fairly consistent, considering the crowds and the weather.

The bad is, of course, my knee going out, and spoiling an otherwise fine race. But, with 40,000 steps in the average marathon (a guess, based on my stride and the distance), all it takes is one bad one, and sometimes, you just don't get the race you wanted. Oh well - there's always next year, after all. Chicago - next time I run you, you are mine!

Okay - there wasn't a whole lot of ugly, unless you count a couple of blisters. There were several Elvises on the course, and I heard that there was a group dressed as Superman, Wonder Woman and others, and I did see a Superman in the 3:10 pace group.

The RBF meet-up afterwards was great, by the way. It was good to put faces to so many of the names, and I think it should be a yearly post-Chicago tradition. I wish I could have stayed longer, but, I'll confess, I did want to go back home and ice my knee, take some painkillers, and lose consciousness for a while - which I did.



Catching up

ORN: 4 miles (each day, today and yesterday), plus 15 miles biking (9 yesterday, 6 today). Not much slower than normal, but no incline, and trying hard not to speed things up or work hard.

Let me start with this:


Okay, now that's out of the way. I hate tapering. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Every little ache, every little twinge, every little seed of doubt is magnified until it becomes a towering oak of doubt and uncertainty. It's not a question of making my target time, it becomes a question of finishing at all. It doesn't matter that the weather is almost ideal for me. It doesn't matter that, in my saner moments, I am looking forward to this race. No, it's loopy-land for me, until 8 am on Sunday. Then I can return to my "normal" self, inasmuch as I can ever be called normal.

I did go out shopping today for race supplies. 26.2 miles on asphalt and concrete has me a little leery about my current shoes and knees, so I bought some inserts and will try them out tomorrow and Friday. They may not make much physical difference, but the placebo effect might be heard loud and clear. I also picked out some cheap, disposable gloves. I have a hat which I had planned on wearing through the race anyway, and haven't decided on whether I will wear a long or short-sleeved tech shirt, but most of my pre-race attire is assembled. And I won't care if I never see my warmup clothes again - they were disposable when I bought them, and that's what I plan on doing to them.

Yesterday, I played a quick round of "Stump the Marathon Organizers." It's a simple game - I watched the course video, and realized that a course preview at an effective speed of almost 160 mph doesn't tell me something that I did want to know: Are most of the roads asphalt, or concrete? As any runner will tell you, one of those surfaces is hard, painful, and gruelling, and the other is a fiendish torture device designed by Satan himself.

Okay, it's not that bad, but compared to nice soft trails, both are pretty bad. But one is only slightly bad, and I'd like to know which it is. Fortunately, Leah provided me with an answer, that most of the roads are probably asphalt. Of course, the marathon people told me that most of the roads are probably concrete. I'll ignore their reality, and substitute my own, and choose asphalt for my running surface.

Tonight is time for making my list, and checking it twice. Tomorrow, I pack up everything I might possibly need, and a few things besides, and then it's almost showtime. Thanks to the oddities of the beta blogger stuff, I may not be able to post until Monday night, so, O Loyal Reader(s), I might be incommunicado for a brief time. Thanks for your support, and I will actually post a race report, though it may be little more than "Ouch. That sucked. My time was X:XX:XX."


Soon, very soon. . .

ORN: 4 miles, no incline, still about 8 min/mile, but much easier on the flat. 6 miles of biking. "100 mile" total is 63.

I first want to give a major thanks to Running Jayhawk, for her Ode to the Chicago Marathon Bloggers. Not only have I been passing it around, I have been told to make a hard copy suitable for going into a scrapbook. It's also going to be printed out, and read when I am going through pre-race jitters on the 22nd.

Speaking of the race, am I the only one out there who actually likes the idea of running in light showers and low to mid-40s? I'd rather have that than the 65 degrees that some people are apparently praying for. It's still a few days out, so there's plenty of time for it to change.

More so than for any previous race, perhaps, I am watching the highlights, the course map, a documentary from last year's race, and going over every scrap of information I can find. (Of course, since most of my previous races have been smaller trail races, information about them was limited to a photocopied map. . . if that.) I'm anxious, nervous, and champing at the bit to be actually running the thing.

It's not an unusual occurance, actually. I will become progressively more nervous and skittish, right up to the point where that horn sounds and we start moving. At that moment, that second, all my training, all my preparation, everything that I have done or failed to do no longer matters. I simply have to run the race with the conditions as they are - overtrained, undertrained, under-dressed, cold or hot, shoes that need replacing or ones with a hundred good miles still in them. It's the waiting that gets to me.



Last medium run before Chicago

ORN: 10 miles, 1.3 degrees, 8 min/mile or faster. Total miles for "100 mile club" - 57.

I'm still on the fence between signing up for the 3:30 and 3:40 pace groups. Today's run offered little edification. The way I see it, I have these factors as pros & cons for being actually able to run a whole 26.2 miles at the 8 min/mile that I would need for a 3:30.

  • Crowd energy - it just keeps me up and moving, which would be a big help in the latter stages of the race
  • Gu & Gatorade - today's run was only on water. I did it, and even had a nice sprint at the end, though it was only 38.4% of the actual distance
  • Weather - the Y is hot. Outside is not hot. Hot is bad. Not hot is good. I'd much rather run in 50 degree weather than 74 degree weather.
  • Improvement - I've been looking over a lot of the posts I made before my last marathon. I'm running noticeably faster, and at a higher incline. This does boost my confidence somewhat.
  • 3:30 is fast. Pushing it fast. 18 minutes of my PR fast. That might be too much of a bite to take at once time, especially considering that I. . .
  • Missed some long runs - I missed a long run for a family emergency, one or two for sickness, cut one short due to injury, cut one short to run a fast (1:43) half-marathon, etc. I just don't feel as trained as I did last time.
  • Crowds - 40,000 people is a lot of people. Even if I don't have to weave through them all (and I don't), it still means that I have miles of "Get out of my way" thoughts running through my head and interrupting my rythym.
  • No music - *sniff* I'll have to run without my mp3 player. No "Superman" theme song, no Weird Al, 80's rock, Spamalot, Disney, ska, etc. I can do it, as I generally ran most of my long runs sans music, but good tunes really help move the feet along about mile 20.
I've still got a couple days to decide. The rest of my runs are going to be short, no incline, and slower. I'll probably bike a bit too, but easy and slow - no sense working hard before the 22nd, right?

Missing post from 10/13

ORN: 5 miles, 1.3 degrees, all at 8 min/mile or faster, 7.5 miles on the bike. Total "100 mile club" miles - 47.

Friday was one of those days where some things go well, and some, not so well. On the plus side, we got the laundry cabinet installed, and a bunch of things moved from what is currently the sewing room (soon to be the baby's room) down to the new shelving in the basement. On the down side, what we thought would be a simple job (replacing an existing ceiling fan) is not so simple - the new one uses a different box than the existing one, and I'm not sure that the existing one is in there properly anyway. While I could probably hack the necessary holes in the ceiling myself, we might just pay someone to come and replace three or four ceiling fans.

They released video of the course for the Chicago marathon, and some highlights from last years race as well. And, predictably, when 40,000 people clicked on the link, bad things happened, and it took hours before I could actually watch it.

Still talking to my family about when & where they are planning to be to watch me run. I keep telling them that there is a very good chance that I simply will not see them - they have more eyes among them, and they are looking for only 1 out of 40,000. I would be looking for 4-5 out of 1.5 million.


Oh yeah. . .

I forgot to add this - it snowed today. We have an inch or so on the ground, though no accumulation on the streets. It will all be gone by early next week, but it's serving as a reminder that it might be cold for Chicago.


Feeling more confident

ORN: 7.5 miles, 1.3 degrees (2 miles), 1.5 degrees (5.4 miles), 2.0-5.5 degrees (last .1 miles, final sprint at 12.0 mph), all save final sprint at 7.5 or faster. (Most faster, since I started increasing speed after mile 2). Total 100 club miles - 39.5

I'm feeling more like I might come close to that time goal after all. Today's run was pretty easy - I felt stronger and more relaxed than I have for the past few days, though not quite as strong and confident as I would like. I know that the legs remember the distance, and that short runs aren't always good indicators, but I will confess that I felt considerably more confident for my first marathon - it seems like my solo runs were longer (on average), and I know that I did more hills. On the other hand, almost all of my treadmill were at lower inclination that what I have been doing in recent months, so I am hoping that makes up for passing on the bigger hills on the long slow runs.

Chicago should be a pretty flat course though. . . at least, I think it is. Maybe I will plug it into the G-maps pedometer tonight and see.



Still debating on time goal

ORN: 5 miles, 1.3 degrees, all at 8 min/mile or faster.

I was planning on doing a full hour at this speed, but I forgot to grab some Kleenex, and since my allergies are still acting up, I had to cut my run short. If it had been a race, I would have kept going, as every moderately-experienced runner knows how to clear those nasal passages while on the move - but the Y probably frowns on that sort of behavior.

I'm still waffling on that time goal - I really want a 3:30, but I did know months ago that it was going to be a toughie to cut that much time off from my first marathon. I'm not sure if I should sign on with the 3:30 pace group and try to keep up with them, or go with the 3:40, and try to just have a strong final 2-3 miles, cutting my time to a sub 3:40, though not by more than a couple minutes.

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I hate blogger beta

ORN: 6 miles, 1.3 degrees, all at 8 min/mile or faster. Total miles: 27.

Let me start off by saying that I hate the beta blogger stuff. It won't remember me, and it periodically forgets my password, forcing me to go through the "Reset the password" routine, usually more than once before it gets set properly. And, as soon as I restart my computer (sometimes as soon as I close that browser window), it happens all over again. Gah.

Update on the running - I am still waffling on whether or not a 3:30 is possible at Chicago. Today's run was easier than yesterday's, but still more towards the difficult side than the easy. This should be a fairly easy, relaxed pace - it's no faster than my recent half-marathon, but thanks to missing some days, my confidence is shot, and my fitness has lost what little edge it possessed. I'll keep plugging away, but with only a few days to go, I'm not sure if it will do anything other than prop up a false sense of potential for the 22nd.

Non-running update: Yesterday afternoon, when I went up to wake the li'l guy from his nap, I found that he had made quite a mess in his room. This is not wholly abnormal - he typically plays for 20-30 minutes before going to sleep, which is lots of time to strew toys, blankets, pillows, etc around the room. Yesterday, he outdid himself. Not only had he done that, but he also had stuffed a half-dozen new diapers into his diaper pail (yeah, like I am fishing those out!), and completely emptied a new box of wipes. Not good, but not scary either. No, the scary came when I was surveying the damage, and saw that he had taken down a table lamp, removed the lamp shade, and unscrewed the bulb. And, the button was in the "on" position! That lamp is no longer in his room, and we've been reminding him repeatedly since then that "Lamps are a 'No Touch!' They will give you owies."

We'd been telling him that before. He'd never been interested in the lamp (at least, interested enough to pull it down, let alone take it apart!) before. I'm incredibly thankful that nothing happened. Kinda puts a few lost diapers and wipes into perspective though, doesn't it?


Revising the time goal?

ORN: 5 miles, 1.3 degrees, 8 min/mile pace, plus 3 miles biking. Total 100 mile club: 21.

I might have to revise my time goal. Thanks to the foot injury and the head cold, I missed almost all of last week, and had to cut some other runs short. I'm not worried about finishing, but I think I might have to chuck my time goal and simply be content with a finish at the moment. Today's run was much harder than it should have been - it's obvious that I lost something in the last week of slothitude. Hopefully I can recover most of it before the 22nd, but I am starting to prepare for a less-than-hoped for race experience.

It's not a big deal - I wasn't even close to a BQ, and I should still set a PR, albeit by much less of a margin than I had originally hoped and planned.


It's official

I got my confirmation brochure today from the Chicago Marathon. I am bib number 10914, which is a little disappointing, because I was hoping that my posted time would put in the top 9999. Oh well. . . I might have to revise my goal time again, in light of this recent illness and injury, but we'll see how tomorrow's run/bike workout goes.

This head cold is almost gone, which is good, because I have discovered that I can get pretty testy when I don't get out of the house and get moving. It wouldn't be a problem, but my son has been getting into everything that he can reach, and he's managed to break a few things in the last couple of days. Nothing major, nothing expensive, but all things that he was warned about, multiple times.


No running for the past two days

Why? Because I have been sick. So has the little one. Some stupid sinus infection on my part, and he has something pretty low-grade, since he just has a runny nose and no real fever as yet. I am hoping to get down to the Y tomorrow for a couple hours of running and biking, to put in one long workout before Chicago, and to catch up on my "100 mile club" week.


Running and the dawdler

ORN: 3 miles running, 12 miles on the bike. Current "100 mile club" total is now 15. I might well finish it somewhere while running Chicago. I've caught up (or passed) many of the more causal atheletes in the listing, but it won't be until I do some doubles in November that I catch up with some of the leaders. I'm not trying to log the most distance, but it would be nice to be up in that top 5 or so.

The son has been dawdling a lot lately. It's almost too the point where, if I want to be at the Y by 9:30, we need to start getting ready to go about 7:30 or 8, just to get out the door by 9. It's incredibly cute sometimes, and often really, really frustrating. It makes errands harder, and I get a lot less done in the morning than I did just a few months ago.


At least I ran today

After getting the munchkin to bed, I managed to get to the Y, and put some miles in. I managed 5 miles of running, and another 9 on the bike, which puts my total of miles for the Y "100 Mile Club" at 8 so far. I'm certainly not in the lead; I saw people with 15-20 miles already logged. But, I'll be catching up soon enough, once I am no longer tapering for Chicago.

Looks like a girl

Remember that I had made a post about why I wasn't going to run the Goofy Challenge next year? Well, today we went in for the 20 week ultrasound, and, although the little one was not terribly cooperative, it appears that we need to start shopping for the obligatory 3,418 little frilly dresses and 837 pairs of little frilly shoes.

ORN: Nothing yet today, but I plan on doing at least 15 on the bike later tonight. The local YMCA (where I do my dreadmill workouts) has a "100 Mile Club," where you are supposed to run or walk 100 miles between Oct 1 and sometime in December. I forget the ending date, but it works out to 10 weeks. Now, you can bike it, but bike miles only count as 1/3 of whatever you do - so a 12 mile bike ride counts as 4 miles.

The good news is that I can count outdoor runs, and, more importantly, races. I'm thinking of trying to see if I can break 300 miles in that period - with Chicago, it's certainly possible.


Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Okay, let's toss in some updates again. (I swear that I am going to get regular about my posting again, honest.)

Last week, I did 5 miles of hills, 4 miles and some of speedwork (2 miles, 1 mile rest, 1 mile, slight rest, half and an additional mile tacked on to some other workout), and a couple of small runs, in addition to my long slow run.

The long slow run was supposed to be my last 20 miler, but my foot was bugging me, and I cut it short to a mere 14. There are four likely causes for the pain:

Metatarsal Stress Fracture
Bone spur
Poorly-fitting shoes
Extensor tendinitis

Now, the shoes were getting close to the mileage that I normally get out of them, and I did increase the hills and speedwork, so my money is a combination of the shoes starting to go and the tendinitis. So, right now, I am doing RICE therapy, and I suspect that most, if not all, of my workouts this week will involve the bike instead of the treadmill.