Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Chip off the Old Block

UPDATE: The dude is fast for a 12 yr. old who hasn't quite sprouted the long runner legs yet. He ran a 8:07 pace in yesterday's meet at Castle Rock Middle School.

I talk about reaching running Nirvana (qualifying for Boston,) but I think I need to reset my definition. This afternoon I was able to catch my son's first ever Jr. High School Cross Country meet for Castle Rock Middle School (Castle Rock, CO.) I have never been a parent that pushed their kid into a sport or any activity that they didn't like. Jesse is a carefree 12 yr. old that has done everything from Soccer (not really his gig,) T-Ball (quite comical to see the scrum with nine boys "dogpiling" on an infield hit,) Basketball (his previous passion,) Flag Football (a previous highlight with his last game recording three touchdowns--one was called back for high-stepping,) and now cross country. Jesse comes from a three generation family of runners. He picked the

absolute hottest month of the summer to try his hand at running--with practices after school, the temps in Denver have been hovering 90+ degrees. He hasn't once complained (quite the feat considering he's also just entered into Jr. High and the increase in school pressures.)

videoThis afternoon was his first ever cross country meet. The temps were again in the 90's. The course was a boring, hilly, hot, dry and windy course. Jesse finished with a 9:04 pace and got the gatorade and water treatment from Dad and Stepdad Mark.

I changed my mind...I think I have redefined running Nirvana. A father's pride.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Long and Winding Road

As I’m stepping up mileage in week four, the mileage starts to inch up on the Saturday long runs—this week will be 13 miles. The question is, how do you mentally get through a given long run as monotony, fatigue, and a tweak becomes more than a tweak? For starters, variety is the spice of life—if you’re like me, you’ve exhausted all the trails and route options from your home. In my case, I’m anywhere from ½ mile to 2 miles from the nearest running/bike path which means you have to traverse side streets and housewives driving their urban assault vehicles with little regard to runners—(defensive running comes into play, but that’s a blog for another day.) I’ve plotted five different directions from my home, and I’m bored with all of them having run them so often.

For my first marathon (San Diego) in 2007, I trained entirely on my own—NOT recommended. Last year I got hooked up with fellow runners and running groups which introduced a wider variety of destination runs—driving to a starting spot. This is a huge help as you get real tired (no pun intended) of running the same routes over and over.

Some of the cooler destination runs in Denver are Waterton Canyon, the Highline Canal (I like starting at DeKoevand Park in Centennial,) the Platte River (you can run from Highlands Ranch to downtown Denver and beyond—plan a run to meet your spouse at the Paris on the Platte for the coolest coffee in Downtown Denver after the 14 mile run .)

Joining a running group this year (Runner’s Edge of the Rockies) has been a huge help in the variety of runs as they have a different long run every Saturday. They mark the distances and where to turn along the way and have water and light snacks (gummi bears or mini figs.) Shedding the water belt on a 13-20 mile run is worth the membership alone.

So you’ve got a cool route, you’ve shed the water belt, but you still have to run the miles. How about getting through the mental part? Running with others at your pace is a huge start. There’s usually light conversation throughout and motivation from others as you’re hitting the higher mileage. With organized groups, they’ll also have a pace group leader.

Other tricks I’ve used include breaking down the miles mentally—it’s much tougher to think about running 20 miles than it is to think about running out 10 miles and “heading back.” Think about running 10…then you merely have to run another 10. Scooby snack rewards are another trick. If I’m carrying a gel, I will usually take in some nutrients every 4-5 miles. Get to mile 4…Scooby snack…get to mile 8…get another. On hill ascents or if I’m getting tired, I’ll pick a point not too far off in the distance, and tell myself, “let’s just get to there.” Once there, I pick another target. If all else fails, rotate the iPod playlist often—just don’t do the iPod in a running group (running group faux pas) or in suburbia—unless you want to be housewife roadkill.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'll Take Manhattan

“Is it safe?” is a quote from one of my most favorite movies as a kid, “Marathon Man” starring Dustin Hoffman. There are two Central park running scenes in the movie (before and after Szell’s handy dental work.) I was a teenager at the time and many years away from getting the “bug” to become a “Marathon Man” myself.

One of the challenges of my training schedule is how to fit in runs when you travel—I’ve done the treadmill at 10PM, four miles the morning after a sales meeting (not recommended,) and early runs on the East Coast when my body is not quite awake.

The “flipside” is that you often get to run in some really cool places. Hawaii, over the Golden Gate Bridge to Tiburon (a “bucket list” favorite of mine,) Toronto, and today I got to run in New York’s famous Central Park. I’ve got meetings in New Jersey this week and took advantage of being so close to one of the greatest cities in the world. Getting there by dusk was the challenge as I’ve seen too many movies showing what evils await in the park after dark.

There’s a number of great sites including Run Your City that highlight where to run when you’re in another city—I found a number of routes in and around Central Park including the run around the reservoir made famous by Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man. The park was bustling with runners, bikers, roller bladders and tourists at dusk. The 1.57 loop around the reservoir was awesome—recreating the Hoffman run, running a portion of the NYC Half Marathon, taking in the scenery, AND it’s a pebble path—great for legs that have been recuperating from injury.

Overall, a great week; track work on Wednesday felt much better than “Weak One.” I hooked up with Runner’s Edge of the Rockies for my long run—out of Golden, Colorado with an “out and back” that ended at Lions Park next to Clear Creek. The reward was dipping your legs in the frigid creek that felt like a ice cold Jacuzzi—good stuff for aching legs. I tossed in a mile and half with my son who is trying out Cross Country in Jr. High—that probably beat out all the above.

As far as running in Central Park near dark, “Yes, it's safe, it's very safe, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it.” (Replied Babe to Szell’s question of “Is it Safe?”)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Weak (sic) One of Training

I’m now officially in the eighteen week Higdon Training program in preparation for the Sacramento California International Marathon in December. I slowly picked up mileage (post injury) over the last six weeks to have enough stamina, leg strength and core strength to endure 500 miles of marathon training.

My two most significant tests over the last couple of weeks have been working with a number of training groups and elite runners. Test number one was going out for my longest run in six months—a 10 mile (long) run with Rocky Mountain Road Runners two weeks ago. The group met at REI in downtown Denver and did an out and back around Sloan’s Lake and Highlands Neighborhood. Despite the temptation to go out with the 3:30 and faster group, I went out with the 3:40 group and ran a fairly slow pace as many were a week away from the Georgetown to Idaho Springs ½ Marathon. It was a great Colorado morning with cool temperature. Around mile seven, I was feeling pretty good as I finished with a 8 minute mile pace—not what you’re supposed to do on a long run, but I wanted to see if my leg could handle it. It felt great!

Test number two was going out for a “bluffs” run near Daniel’s Park/Highlands Ranch with one of my running buddies; Tim Wolfe. Tim is a 3:00 Marathon runner and I questioned my sanity by a) running with him, and b) running the bluffs—this is basically the “Walter Payton running up the hill” training kinda stuff. Much tougher run, but managed to get through 9 miles.

I’ve still felt some minor discomfort in my lower left leg and followed up the previous two runs with a visit to “Dr. Death’s (Mark Plaatjes) ” partner, “The Queen of Pain (Heather)” last week for a dose of deep tissue massage. I’ve coupled those treatments with ice, some compression (McDavid’s leg wrap,) TENS electronic stimulation treatment at home, and daily Calcium/Vitamin D.

Ironic that my first official training week started on Sunday’s Sports section article on Olympic speed skater, Allison Baver. Allison suffered a nasty broken fibula in February in Bulgaria. After surgery and intense rehab, she resumes training four months later in June! A great story and great source of motivation to start my program. The other “carrot” was seeing a fellow runner don her ’08 Boston Marathon jacket at the Starbucks after the REI run—I want that jacket!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Insult to Injury

This is not a political statement, but I'll blame this one on Obama, Darwin award behavior, and getting old. I'm rehab'ing from a stress fracture I ran on in the Chicago Marathon this last October. I thought I was dealing with shin splints and would muscle through it. A month after Chicago, I was still feeling pain and knew something was not right. I finally went to the ortho and x-rays revealed nothing. "I can't say for sure without a bone scan, but I think it's a stress fracture," according to my ortho. I was quarantined to no running and not even eliptical for six weeks. After six weeks, I still had pain and I was scheduled for a bone scan. I don't start out with the greatest bones having been diagnosed with Arthritis at age 13.

Sure enough, the bone scan revealed a stress fracture in my left tibia. Another prescription of EIGHT weeks without running and daily Calcium and Vitamin D supplements. After four months of this back and forth I decided to go see my running physical therapist (AKA, Dr. Death.) Mark Plaatjes in Boulder, CO. He works miracles for runners and had helped me through numerous injuries in 2008 aside from his marathon tips as an accomplished marathon runner himself. After he scolded me for not seeing him two months earlier, he did his Dr. Death treatment (like hardcore Rolf massage--gripping the table in pain kinda stuff.) He diagnosed that I had muscle issues related to the injury and likely caused by a 2nd toe longer than the first. Sounds funky, but he's not steered me wrong yet.

What does all this have to do with Obama? I went to his Democratic acceptance speech in Denver and the lines were insane getting into Invesco Field. This is the Darwin part...I'm in flip flops and have to run three miles to get around to the other side of the stadium due to security to get in--a cascade of calf, plantar, and glute muscle injuries lead up to what I thought was shin splints, but was a stress fracture. Running in flip flops...that's the Darwin part. Dumb things dumb guys do.

Recovering from this requires a ton of patience and introducing things like pool running and swimming while watching the spring runners enjoy the weather--not a fun thing. Helping me ramp up was an article I found online about returning to running after a stress fracture.

The good news is I ran 10 this weekend and actually feel pretty good--still some muscle tenderness in the calf area so I'll be off to Dr. Death again soon gripping that table.

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine