We were able to plan our summer trip back to Nebraska during the College World Series this year and as luck would have it there was a 5K that made a loop through the TD Ameritrade stadium on the warning track!
As we loaded the car with the kids in the morning I quickly realized it was going to be humid. Not just a typical high humid day, but more like a ‘breathing water humidity’ kind of day….great. At the point of the race I’d been in Omaha about a week and was not at all acclimated to the humid conditions. What the hell, let’s see what we can do.
The race started off at 9a.m. and was going to be pretty flat and easy to run. I was feeling really cocky strong through mile 1 finishing it in 7:17 and thinking if I just pushed a bit more I could PR my 5k on this course by running sub-7:15′s. That thought was short-lived though. As we turned into the ballpark’s center field opening I realized my bladder was ridiculously full. To make that worse, when we exited the stadium we ran past a whole row of port-o-potty’s which just added insult to injury, ha!
Stadium, done. Mile 2, done. Mile 2 came at a positive split of 7:37. I was getting slower. I was REALLY getting hammered by the humidity now. There’s no shade on the course and the sun + humidity was starting to take its toll on many of the runner’s I chatted with on the course.
There’s a short hill after mile 2 and then we keep cruising through downtown Omaha. Then at about mile 2.30 you are climbing another small-ish hill. I was soaked at this point and was ready to just take it easy the rest of the run so I decided to walk a bit.
Blah…time to enjoy the rest of the race and scene’s with the far-fetched hope of a PR now gone. Just when I got done saying that to myself I saw my old pal Jess go running by me. I started running again and quickly caught up with her. We exchanged a few words, agreed it was hot as hell out and then I headed to the finish line.
Those final steps to the finish line also marked mile 723 on those particular Vibram KSO’s! Here’s the final stats on this really fun, different race course:
Overall Place: 68 of 491
Place in Gender: 50 of 256
Division Male 30-39 Place: 10 of 49
It’s a question I’ve been getting asked a lot lately and if I look at the last time I updated here it’s clear to see why folks would wonder…
So, no. I haven’t quit running. Instead I took lessons from the back to back “injuries” from last year and changed what I was doing with my running. Instead of building (possible unhealthily fast) mileage I’ve focused on shorter runs, strength, and variety.
In fact my monthly mileage is at a 52 week high (much more than I can say for my RIMM stock):
And those miles are coming from a mix of speed, hill, and regular runs that are all under 6 miles in length.
My last two runs show what I’m honing in on:
Speed! Well speed for a slow guy like me anyways I’d like to PR my 5k this fall which means I have to get comfortable in the low 7′s…I still have some work to go on this.
Overall, my new approach with short runs and focusing on variety in the outdoor activities I choose is resulting in me feeling stronger than I’ve ever felt. My body will be ready in the future for the taxing demands of piling up mileage but for now I’m really satisfied with how I’m progressing. I haven’t raced in over a year as well and look forward to my first 5K coming up this Sunday.
A new Chris McDougall article hit the New York Times yesterday and It’s all the buzz in minimalist running land today. In it, McDougall discusses an article he ran accross written by Walter Goodall George in 1908 titled “W. G. George’s Own Account From the 100-Up Exercise.” Read that Wikipedia article I linked above, this dude was the real deal running a 30 year standing world record mile in 4:12.75!
I like that shot from the video above…I totally used to run like that…it’s funny looking back at it now.
So take on W.G.’s challenge. Give 100 of the ‘minors’ a shot and once you’ve mastered that, try 100 ‘majors’. It’s tough as hell, but something I’m looking forward to incorporating into my strength conditioning going forward.
Where have I been? Ok. I know. It’s been a LONG while since I’ve updated here. Truth be told, I’m broken.
It started with the knee issue from my summer fishing trip and has now made its’ way to my Achilles/Heel area. What is it exactly, I don’t know. I’ve self-diagnosed it as a minor Achilles tendinitis but “minor” doesn’t equal “easy”. This thing hurts. It got so bad that on my last attempt to run at the quarter mile mark it felt like my heel was going to drop off on to the pavement.
So what have I done? In short, nothing. I stopped running, jogging, etc and just let it rest. I spent a week icing it and now it’s been over a month without running on it. The good news is that it doesn’t hurt at all anymore from walking or throughout the day. The irritating news is that it is painful and stiff every morning for about 15 minutes until I can “walk it out”. I’m not running because of this morning pain. It’s enough of an alert to me that things are not “normal” down there yet.
What am I thinking? I’m pretty certain that when I wrote this post in September and mentioned a “floaty” feeling in my knee, not only did I get a lot of shit from people reading this about my use of the word (or non-word) “floaty”, but also I was in the process of creating my current condition. My knee was only alarming me back then when I would extend it so I was purposefully running much more squated and, with my gait placing my foot directly below my ass for most of my running, I was increasing the stretch in my Achilles. Here’s a visual since my writing is usual misinterpreted:
You take that running form adjustment to pushing myself too early into a 6 mile REALLY hilly run and it was simply too much for the Achilles. Again, this is all hindsight. I was knowingly running different and pushing myself too much too soon and didn’t seem to care.
What’s the plan? Keep waiting it out…for the running part. For me overall, I’ve incorporated a regular regimen of stretching and Yoga. I’ve spent time researching my issues and am convinced I need some significant balance strength training in my lower extremities (really my lower back to my toes). I’ve been doing some exercises from great resources like Chris Johnson PT and other folks who I feel know what they are talking about and put information out there for us to digest and incorporate. I’m also walking. I’m doing several weekly walks of a 3+ miles. This can be annoying because walking sucks compared to running loose, but if I’m going to get strong and able again it all starts with a strong, pain free walk…
Speaking of Chris Johnson, his post here on the “wobbly runner” is basically describing me now that I’ve taken a hard look at myself. This is why I’m focusing on strengthening my lower body.
After Fila launched its own version of “toe shoe” called the Skele-toes a while back I knew it was a matter of time until the big names came running…pun intended.
All of the major brand players have launched minimalist lines over the past couple years. Nike has the Free, New Balance has the Minimus, and Merrell came out with the Glove line. Those all have had one thing in common; they look like traditional shoes and don’t incorporate individual pockets for toes. Well it appears Adidas is making the leap this November with the launch of the Adidas adiPURE toe shoe.
I have to say the thing looks interesting enough for me to bite and pick them up at the anticipated $90 price tag they will carry. The lack of the strap and overall solid construction appearance will be interesting to test out. I’m unsure of how thick the sole will be but appears to be a bit beefier than the Vibram FiveFingers which is something I’ll hold off on passing judgement on until I test them and can see if it impedes the whole point of being near-barefoot.
A tough road ahead? Will this thing actually hit the shelves in November may be the biggest question left. Vibram has a much publicized lawsuit pending against Fila for the Skele-toes claiming patent infringement. I’m assuming the patent they are most rigorously defending is #20100299962 for the toe segmentation piece. I also think that Fila’s main argument will be their shoe clearly has a 4 toe design and does not directly copy the 5 toe separation that Vibram has created with the FiveFingers. If that is their argument I’ll be curious as to how Adidas plans to defend itself against the almost certain suit coming their way from Vibram…
In the end, I’m not sure how to feel about the whole patent issue. I mean, it’s a shoe. What if Nike laid claim to the modern day running shoe and they were the only one that could make a running shoe…? Who knows what could happen in a world where we’ve allowed companies to patent food crops…
Opportunity knocked this week when the manager of our corporate gym called my office and said there was a group doing a timed 5K in the corporate park as part of a “Couch to 5K” group they had started. He asked if I wanted to join up and encourage the participants as they embarked on what would be the first time most of them had run the 5K distance.
“ABSOLUTELY!”, I said assuredly and then hung up.
Wait…I haven’t run in 7 weeks, is a timed 5K really a good idea? Probably not, but since when do I make good decisions all the time!
So today came and I was genuinely excited to run with a group…I was excited to RUN (period). As we lined up I had to mentally talk myself down from charging out at 7min/mile pace and keep repeating, “you’re not 100% go SLOW”. It helped because there were so many folks who were targeting 30mins plus and a few targeting sub-25′s, so I knew I could fit somewhere in there depending on the knee.
It went really well. Obviously not fast, but I experienced no pain. I did have a few spots where the knee felt a bit “floaty” and I did the smart thing and walked.
I like that word “floaty”, but to expand on it a bit I’d say a lot of it may have to do with me babying the leg over the past 7 weeks and there is a healthy amount of just strength loss going on with that whole leg. Having noticed that, I started and finished the run today in the exercise class room at the office with the foam roller, which is always a great way to keep that IT band behaving. I also added 100 jump rope jumps to the race finish and then some pistol squats to challenge that leg. The pistol squats are really what highlighted the marked strength loss in my right leg.
So what to do from here?
I’m not going to sign up for 50 miles next week, but instead I’ll keep jogging about 2 to 3 times a week and mix in a deal of strength (non-weight) training. I’m cautiously optimistic right now and after running today I realize how much I’ve missed that part of my life over the past 7 weeks. When you experience times in your life that you can’t run it really makes you appreciate the ability to run when it’s back in your life…
Well let’s not beat around the bush – I didn’t run in July.
I took the first week off planned because I had a fishing trip planned and it was going to involve lots of drinking and shenanigans and not a lot of time for running. Fine, I mean it’s only a week? Well…on the second day of the trip we were 40 miles offshore and took a hit from a large wave. I had my heel locked and my thighs braced on the boat side and the wave tweaked and twisted me just right to feel a slight pop/tear in my right knee.
It’s been crap ever since. I tried a few times to run and I can’t get more than a quarter mile without a pretty disturbing pain from the backside of my knee. I became pretty sure that I partially tore something and decided to just rest until walking and jogging from point to point didn’t hurt.
As of now the knee finally doesn’t hurt when I walk and I’ve been able to do a quick jog to the mailbox and back without it feeling like things were floating around in there.
I’m ready to test it out again this week and see if I can run again. I’m starting to go stir crazy with the time off. My sleep is getting messed up and I generally just don’t feel complete and on top of my game without running.
On May 13, 2011 I set out for my 3rd Ragnar Relay, this time Ragnar New York. The majority of the team was the same team I had run Ragnar New England with last year. The difference with this race was really two-fold. One, I would be running this relay in Van 1 for the first time in any relay. That means heading out first and finishing first (read this as “first to beer garden”). Second…HILLS. Van 1 in this race starts in the Catskills. Literally, our last runner in the first leg hands off and the next team takes us out of the mountains.
My first leg was slated to be an 8.2 “very hard”. Much to my surprise, at mile 8.2 I didn’t see the infamous “one mile to go” sign…I was dying in this leg. The hills were laughable because that’s about all you could do as you threw your body up them. I remember being about 4 miles in and saying to myself, “I’m finishing this and never running again…this sucks and is not fun…”. Those are, of course, the little voices in your head that you quickly forget about as soon as you’re done and back in the van chatting and laughing about how insane the hills were and that run instantly becomes a classic. So the first leg looked like this:
In the end that leg was over 1300 feet of vertical and just over 9 miles, not the advertised 8.2…!
My legs data ended like this:
Leg 1 – 9.05 miles – 1:25:56 – 9:31/mile
Leg 2 – 5.90 miles – 48:38 – 8:13/mile
Leg 3 – 4.70 miles – 37:54 – 8:04/mile
TOTAL – 19.65 miles – 2:52:28 – 8:46/mile
2325 of vertical climbing!
It was another amazing sleepless journey (I netted 48 minutes of sleep). I totally look forward to the next! Here’s a team photo from this year’s finish line and also a video I threw together from clips along the way…enjoy!
In 2010 I participated in 2 Ragnar Relay’s. The first was Ragnar New England in May and then I ran Ragnar Tennessee in November. Each of these were AMAZING experiences where I met some great new folks and had an absolute blast sharing a van and some stink for around 30 hours running 200 miles!
Well…it’s that time again. Next month is Ragnar New York where 12 of us will pile onto the roads starting at the birthplace of the original Woodstock and ending in Westchester County. Another 200 miles of running, questionable language/conversations, poor eating, no sleeping, a little bit of stinkiness….you know, just a ton of fun!
My 3 legs look like this:
Leg 1 – 8.2 Miles (classified as “very hard”) – 1017 feet of vertical gain
Leg 2 – 5.8 Miles (classified as “moderate”) – 284 feet of vertical gain
Leg 3 – 4.6 Miles (classified as “moderate”) – 269 feet of vertical gain
So that’s 18.6 Miles with 1570 feet of vertical over about a 20 hour period – woooo hooo!!!!
Well, I did it. I finished my first half marathon. I didn’t do it without some serious issues though, which is something you just got to roll with…better yet, learn from…
I particularly like that the photo above is out of focus, because quite frankly…that’s about how I felt before the race. I woke up with a bit of a sore throat, nothing too bothersome. I sat down at the table to have breakfast with the family and that’s where I knew something wasn’t right. I had to force down two pancakes. Now I typically put down 4 of my amazing home made cakes but for some reason my body just didn’t feel like taking in the food.
Oh well, I got a race to get to and I’ve ran over 10 miles before with low food intake, I’d just down my energy juice and have a GU at the ready. So I filled my Ultimate Direction bottle up with my favorite FRS flavor and hit the road!
I felt pretty good lining up in the starting coral. I chatted up a couple runner’s about the weather to see if I should go long or short sleeved and they mentioned there were 30mph wind gusts poised to come head on the entire run…great, long sleeve it is. The race had a bit of a disorganized feel to it and the tip of that iceberg was the late start…I hate late starts, you’re already anticipating the race then you have to wait 20 minutes more, ugh. Eventually we took off!
The start of the race is hokey, you have to do this double loop through the park before it finally breaks out onto the streets of Danbury, Redding, and Bethel. I was watching my Garmin 305 diligently to ensure my pacing was on to nail my sub-1:48 goal (was really sub-1:50 goal, but you gotta stretch it!). Through mile 3 I was right on target! The first four stacked up nicely, I was really doing it – 8:15, 7:59, 8:09, and 8:09…then
Things started to feel funny…not like the climbing rope in 5th grade gym class funny, but something sinister started to creep up from my feet to the very tips of the hair on my head.
My energy levels were plummeting like I’ve never experienced, I was getting waves of goose bumps flushing over my body from foot to scalp. I was hotter than hell, I felt dehydrated, I felt like I needed an I.V. drip of GU to just start feeling normal.
What can you do? Press on…and I did. My left foot fell asleep from mile 4 to 6. Not like, “oh hehe my foot’s asleep”, but like “holy shit, I have to stare at my foot every step I take because I can’t even tell if it’s on pavement!” Never had that happen like that before, it was surreal and agitating. Mile 6 and change is the first hill of the race. I found myself walking half of it. I was mentally battling myself trying to find some type of justification as to why my body was just shutting down on this of all days…
At the top of mile 6′s hill I had to down my GU. I had no choice. I was exhausted already. I knew in the race guide they said there was GU at mile 8 so I had one more coming. I kept pushing through. The hard part of the race was just ahead and every step I took felt like I was dragging myself like a corpse through this thing.
This lovely little race offers 600ft of vertical ascension and you get most of that from mile 8 to 10 in the form of a big ass hill. I reached the 8 mile water station and stopped. I grabbed the Gatorade kid and downed about 4 dixie cups of the green stuff. I then grabbed the GU kid, snagged 2 GU’s from him and proceeded to head up the hill while sucking them down. I took a quick glance at my watch. Holy shit! I was still on pace to finish at 1:48…not sure how but in the mass chaos going on within my head the primal competitive side of me kept me on pace.
It didn’t last long. At mile 9 my left calf muscle felt like it dislodged and was heading for my butt…Massive cramps. I wouldn’t ever really recover from this. I could run .25 to .50 from that point forward then would have to stop, (cry a little), stretch and start the wheels spinning for the next cycle. It became very un-fun.
I got through it. I managed to run the last .75. It’s amazing how you can hide the pain and cramps for that last little bit when you know there are thousands of eyes on you! This was me even looking somewhat put together at around mile 12-ish.
Within 30 minutes of finishing the race, I began shivering uncontrollably…I thought somehow I was starting to experience hypothermia. I told my wife to just grab the car and to get me out of there. I slept the drive home. I got home and could barely stand. I was up all night either fevering or sweating from the last fever breaking. I woke up in the a.m. and could barely breath through my mouth let alone swallow. My wife sent me to the doctor’s right away. “You’re full of strep” was what he said after gagging me on a throat swab. He said I had it the morning of the race and the race probably did just enough to accelerate everything to a speed that knocked me on my ass.
So…oh well. It happens. I finished in 1:54, and I’m still pretty damn proud of that time considering the hell that run put me through. As other runner’s will know, this can only mean one thing: