Wednesday, November 1, 2017

So, What's Next?

After donning my big boy pants a few weeks ago, I have been forced to answer the question, what's next? It would have been easy to decide that this running thing, and especially the racing component, needs to be relinquished in my life. Seriously, I contemplated that. It's way uncomfortable, sometimes hurts, and I'm not getting any younger.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I know me well enough that while I could have decided to never race again; to drop this whole marathon thing, I was never going to consider not running. I've been in this too long AND get too many extra benefits to not run.

SO...... I devised a plan to refocus myself and set some new goals. Here's a few:

1. Mileage. I love the fact that over the fifty-one years I have been running, I average over 2000 miles a year. I consider that my "seriousness" gauge. In 2016 and 2017 my knee surgery severely "crippled" (pun intended) my mileage. Anticipating no severe issues, I expect to be back over 2000 miles in 2018.

2. Races. I really think that some of marathon success can be based in racing shorter distances more often (at least for me). I think the more you race, the easier it is to rehearse the structure of training and racing. Even just working on your training cycles for a 10K or half-marathon will help when you construct your marathon training program. My goal is to race under the marathon distance a dozen times in the coming year. Have five scheduled already.

3. Marathons. While I would love to swear these off forever, I can't. Something in me wants to hit a certain number before I croak. I have seventeen under my belt so far, and while I can't tell you the number, I have a goal. By the way, I can't tell you the number not because it's a secret. I just don't know it yet. It might be 26, or maybe 50. Don't know. I do know I want to run three next year: spring, summer, fall. Up first, Eugene on April 29.

Sunday is the New York marathon. I will watch it on TV (well, record it). I may shed a tear, maybe not. All in all, however, I want to focus on getting back to pain free running, logging miles and feeling good about myself as a runner. That's what it's about for me anyway.

Run on.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Putting On Our Big Boy Pants

I have put off this latest post for what seems like FOREVER

This was going to be a post about my Hot Chocolate 15K (a good run), my turnaround on the butt thing (how my fave guy, Pete Emerson gave me the cure), and some Chicago Marathon thoughts. I also figured I'd include some pre NYC Marathon thoughts. It's not, however, going to be about any of those things. Today, I put on my Big Boy Pants, and cancelled my New York Marathon trip.

It wasn't fun, but it makes sense. If I were younger, skinnier, tougher, I might go ahead and run on my crappy mileage, the six weeks of real training I missed because of the butt thing, and the lack of significant long runs and just tough it out.

Unfortunately, I am NOWHERE near where I had hoped to be and I simply cannot, with any kind of adult conscience, drop the two grand this trip would cost on "Gee, I hope that maybe I can finish under five hours." I am not happy about it, but I actually feel like an adult at this moment and every once in awhile, that's a good thing.

So, maybe another time, New York (although probably not really).

Run on.

Friday, September 22, 2017

My Attention is in Berlin and my Butt

Week three of the road to the Super Bowl has begun. The World Series is just around the corner. Who cares? Sunday morning is the Berlin Marathon and I am psyched.

One of the greatest match-ups of all time is almost here: Eliud Kipchoge vs. Kenenisa Bekele vs. Wilson Kipsang. Arguably the greatest marathoner ever vs. the 5K and 10K world record holder vs. the last world marathon record holder. YIKES. AND....... if that isn't enough, can you say "world record?"

Yep. most experts are saying that barring the unforeseen, which is always.... unforeseen, a new world best is expected. The pacers are scheduled to take the runners through on world record pace. The participants are talking about running fast, so 2:02:57 could be in jeopardy. So, who's running? Three guys and of course thousands of others. Mostly three guys.

Kenenisa Bekele:   Current best at 2:03:03. One of the greatest 5 & 10K runners/kickers is the defending Berlin champ. While terribly fast, it's unsure which Bekele will show up. Will it be the tough, fast, runner from last year's Berlin, or the inconsistent one who did not finish in Dubai in January and was 3rd to Kipchoge and Stanley Biwott in London in 2016?

Wilson Kipsang:   Current best 2:03:13.  Prior to Dennis Kimetto's world record run, Kipsang held the fastest time. Kipsang's strength is his consistency. Four times he has run under 2:04:00. He is also the only one who has beaten Kipchoge over 26.2 miles.

Eliud Kipchoge:  Current best 2:03:05. Kipchoge, I will admit, is the man in my humble eyes. Coming off the Nike Breaking2 project and running 2:00:25 in "artificial" conditions in early May, Kipchoge has extreme momentum on his side with that run as well as an easy Olympic Marathon win. Moreover, he is the marathon Zen-Master. Listen to this guy talk about running, marathoning, and life and you will be dazzled by his coolness.  

Awesome National Geographic special on the Breaking2 race.

So, I am ready. It airs (and will be recorded) on NBC Sports at 3 am. I won't be up until 5:30. Don't spoil it, please.

Butt Update: Went to a highly recommended physical therapist Wednesday, and lo and behold, I have been right all along: piriformis syndrome. SO..... slowly we have the magic exercise in place and hope to be in the land of pain-free for the New York Marathon in a little more than six weeks.

Nothing against the previous "experts" I have seen, but I know my body and I KNEW what was wrong with it. Just been unsure about the treatment without the proper guidance. Hoping to have it right now.

Run on.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Two Steps Forward......

Two forward, one back
Since last writing, my running has taken the theme of Two Steps Forward, One Step Back (or maybe three).

Feeling suitably inspired after the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon, I decided to take a few easy days. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday ended up racking 14 miles. Then my juices kicked in. A 9 mile run was followed by 7 which was followed by 15. Ended up accidentally being a 50 mile week.

The next week was designed to be a completely easy week, less than 40 miles. It was, by the way, executed to perfection. Then while the last week of August saw huge progress with my knee, some discomfort returned in my glute. That nagging piriformis thing seemed to be back. Not cool. My butt had, once again, become a pain in the butt.

Last summer I lost both the San Francisco Marathon and the Squamish 50K (and roughly $450) to the butt injury. When at its peak, the pain feels like a bone on bone stabbing along with some pretty major IT band radiating. Not cool at all. And, it was back.

No caption needed
I had a comfortable 16 mile run on Friday the 1st hoping to have enough rest to run the Fortitude 10K in Ft. Collins on Labor Day. The long run went very well and the easy run the next day created hope. Then Sunday hit. An easy 5 miles turned into a butt loosening nightmare. You see, this injury tends to loosen during runs. The issue is that on a very painful day, it is damned difficult to tolerate on the way to loose. The day before the 10K, it took 4 miles to even feel okay.

Race Day!?!?!?!? Blah! I could not even move after the ride to the Fort (sitting makes piriformis WAY WORSE). I had an hour to loosen up and for the life of me, it was not happening. I finally got to where I could lightly shuffle jog just before the gun. I decided to get in my wave and maybe give it a go.

BANG! The gun goes off. Within seconds everyone in the BB wave is gone. I, on the other hand, am gimping along looking for anywhere to stretch. Then the next wave ran by. Then the next and the next and the next. Eventually I crossed the mile mark in just under 17 minutes. SEVENTEEN MINUTES????? Holy crap, we all WALK faster than that!

Amazingly, however, I finally loosened up. The second mile was an uncomfortable 10:38,
The Finish
followed by a 10:08. followed by three straight in the 9s. Well, that's better. 
Buoyed by my new found speed, I was ready to fly into the new CSU football stadium for the finish. Then..... BAM. Down like a ton of bricks. What?

Every mile of the course had these timing strips across the road. Every strip was within feet of the mile marker. Except the 6th. The 6th was placed about twenty yards past. So after flying through the 6 mile marker, I decided to adjust my phone (which was in the back pocket of my shorts) and BAM, down I go.

Immediately several young gentlemen come to my aid attempting to hoist me from the depths of concrete despair and back into the race (as if we were on the way to a PR or something). Slow down fellas! I can handle this. Anyway, slightly bleeding and a little embarrassed, I finished the task.

SO, bad butt: Strike one. Falling: Strike Two. Well Strike Three was around the three mile mark when I was forced, for the first time EVER in a race, to make a porta potty pit stop. Enough said.

The next two days of recovery runs were miserable and when combined with a lot of driving to get to classes in Basalt, my butt catapulted into an incredibly worsened state. THAT was when I decided I've had enough. It was see Dr. Carly time. Several dry needles later, I was no better. SO, five days off. Boo.

The upside is that I have an appointment with a Dr. next week and hope to get to the "bottom" of this. Upside number two is that I loosened up enough to run this morning. 7 miles and that run has kept me fairly loose for the day. I hope, as I am 7 1/2 weeks out from the New York Marathon, that I am on the road to recovery. If for no other reason than being tired of wasting big bucks on races I don't run.

Run on.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

51 Years, 13.1 miles, Emma and Courtney

51 Years.

Saturday, under the crisp morning sky of Georgetown, Colorado, two things happened: I celebrated 51 years of running, and warmed up for the Georgetown to Idaho Springs half-marathon. Let's begin with the long view. 
Some guy who still runs, circa 1968

51 years. That's a long time to do anything. I actually believe that the only other things I have done that long in my lifetime is be a son and a brother, and a learner. It's a long time and a hell of a commitment.

I was "discovered." Yep, like Elvis, like The Beatles, I was discovered. I never intended to be a runner, I was going to be a baseball player. I could hit, I could pitch, and I could obtain my Dad's approval. Then..... I was discovered. 

It happened in PE class. We did this thing once or maybe twice a year, called the distance run. In reality, the distance run was around 3/4 of a mile. It seemed like a long ass way to me, as well as my classmates though. The first time I did it (7th grade, no middle school back then), I have no idea what my time was. Might have been around 4:26 (that seems kind of exact for not having an idea, right?), but I remember running well ahead of my JHSPE mates. The Junior High record was 4:10 but I didn't learn that until 8th grade when I ran a time of 4:02 (my first, and one of a very few, records). No matter, it was still the dreaded distance run and we hated it.

While those are moderately fuzzy memories, I remember the 9th grade distance run like it was yesterday. I was confident and actually looking forward to my opportunity to make that giant loop of the Abraham Lincoln Junior High fields. 3:36! The next day, my PE teacher Mr. Eldridge said that someone wanted to see me. It was Coach Al Pingel, the high school cross country and track coach. That was all it took. I was discovered.

Much to Dad's disapproval, I decided to run cross country in high school. Practice began Monday, August 15th. Deciding that maybe I needed to get in shape prior to reporting, on August 12, 1966, I went for my first real run. That set off a crazy chain of events over 51 years, without which, I would be nothing close to the person I am today or have been since. While many a tale has been written in this very blog about my slightly better than mediocre career as a high school and collegiate runner, I will say this: I owe a lot to that decision.

51 years. A long time.

Is that guy photo-bombing me?

That brings us to Saturday and the Georgetown to Idaho Springs half-marathon. As I have noticed since my knee surgery (a little over eight months ago), I am very shy and considerably nervous about any "test" of my knee's fitness. Each longer run, every knee exercise, each "race," has me in a tizzy wondering if this is the time when my knee will buckle and it will all be over. (Hey, just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean my knee is not out to get me.)

With training runs around 12 minute pace (yeah, turtle-like), I decided I would begin very easy and try to get comfortable in the mid 11's. The GTIS is mostly downhill, so added concern about pounding also entered into the equation. My goal was two (actually three) fold: 1) get to the finish line comfortably with no knee issues, 2) run under 2:30 (11:26 pace), and maybe 3) on a good day run under 2:25.

At the starting line I cozied up in the group between the 2:25 and 2:30 pacers. Seemed like a good place to be. The starter yelled "GOOOOO" (very classy) and we were off.

The first two miles, the loop around Georgetown, passed quickly. My splits were 11:16 and 11:00. Hmmmm. At that point I decided to move up to the 2:25 group. By three miles I was firmly embedded next to the pacer, but after a 10:26 figured it was time to move on (or maybe up). The next four miles passed nicely averaging about 10:29. At eight miles I noticed I was gaining on the 2:20 pace group. I decided, at that point, that I would catch that pacer by the ten mile mark. A 10:20 led to a 9:57 and at 9.8 miles I was there.

Wow, I might run under 2:20!

My plan was to stay with the group for another mile and a half and then push it in for a sub-2:20. The plan was short-lived. No sooner did I join this pack, I was greeted with a chattering group boisterously discussing television commercials and last dates. I HAD to leave. In my haste to deliver myself from this "conversation," I dropped in a 9:59 and I was gone. The next two miles were controlled and, I have to say, fun.

I arrived at the finish line in 2:17:38 and was pretty stinking happy. Granted, I have run fifteen miles in 1:24, which means I probably passed through the half marathon in 1:14 and change, but that was in the 70's. Expectations, as well as the "zone of acceptable performance," has changed immensely since 1975. So, I was/am happy!

The best part was that the whole thing was easy. My knee was great! Everything else worked fine and with the exception of this pesky little hotspot on my right foot, I'd call it almost awesome. I confess to having been in quite the good mood the rest of the day.

With this satisfying performance, of course, comes the reality that I am able to hold a quicker training pace than the one I have been doing and that it's time to actually begin mixing in a few real live workouts. 

The New York marathon is in a little less than 12 weeks. Prior to Saturday, I only hoped that I would finish and dreaded that it might take more than five hours (or even longer). The GTIS tells me that with many weeks of training ahead, I may easily be able to run under 4:30 which would be a great post surgery goal. Excited to see how it unfolds.

Emma and Courtney.
Emma Wins! Courtney Second, East Africans shocked

While I was happy with my own "race," it was pale in comparison to the "race of the century;" the women's 3000 meter steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships in London on Friday. The Steeple (something I ran in college) is slightly less than two miles run over 28 barriers and seven water jumps. Please note: barriers, not hurdles. When you hit these things, YOU move, not them. 

Historically, East Africans, almost entirely Kenyans dominate the event. Only recently through the efforts of Jenny Barringer (now Simpson) five years ago and Evan Jager and Emma Coburn (medals at the last Olympics) we have gained respectability. On day five, Jager earned another bronze setting the stage for Emma maybe, just maybe, medaling as well. The rest is history.

With a lap to go in the women's steeple, Linda and Roxy (we were dog-sitting) ran into my office alarmed by the noise of this lunatic guy pounding on his desk and yelling uncontrollably. Soon the reason was clear, Emma and USA teammate Courtney Frerichs had gone 1-2, taken Gold and Silver, something that NO ONE could have predicted, or even dreamed about prior to the race. It was the perfect race, executed by two women on the same day in the same race. It was beyond IMPRESSIVE.

Emma set a new American record by almost five seconds and Courtney set a PR (personal record) by sixteen. And while the race was incredible, the post race celebration was, as they say, priceless. If you missed it and would like a little inspiration, go to Many, many props to these fabulous racers!

So, it's been a good week. Here's to many more. Run on.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

T Minus Fifteen Weeks

Fifteen weeks from today is the New York City Marathon. In the training world that is both a long way out, and a blink of an eye. Up until this week, I was 50/50 on whether I would be ready to run 26.2 miles on November 5th. Today, I'm feeling more like 75/25. I've booked my post race poncho, my transportation to the start line, and re-entered my predicted finish time. In a few more weeks, I just might have to book that flight.

It's been a good week of 51 miles culminating in 13 today up Waterton Canyon. I like Waterton as it's half of however far you're running UPhill and the other half DOWN (I like down). The UP is gradual enough to be very runnable and the down is gradual enough to not be that icky quad pounding beat up thing. Today, we (my son Ryan and I) went to the "end," theoretically six miles up to the dam. You can keep going, however, and connect with the Colorado Trail. That next half mile (to get to 6.5, the turn around for thirteen), is steep. That one little half mile totally changed the complexion of my run. I will confess to feeling pretty darned AWESOME the first six miles, but throw in that "other" half mile and I hit the turn-around toasted. I never quite completely recovered.

Running buddy
I get this, though. When you're too heavy, the place where the weight exposes itself in the most INeffective way, is running up anything close to even semi-steep. But time will fix that. Check with me in the Spring.

I also like Waterton because I like the Big Horn Sheep. Today's run had ZERO sheep (a rarity) until the tenth mile when an adolescent ventured out onto the road. He looked at me awhile, waited until I was about ten yards away and then took off up the road. Too fast for me. So was Ryan, by the way (too fast for me). I released him from feeling like he had to keep me company at 7 miles and a half mile later he finally took off. He had a nice run to the bottom.

As for the training week, gone are the 3,4,5 mile runs that were the staple of my recovery existence. They have been replaced with 5,6,7, even 8 mile runs. I've reconnected with some favorite old loops and for the most part, things are looking good. I barely feel my knee AT ALL and have had a very good week with my on-again/off-again piriformis syndrome. On the whole, all is good.

I still have a LONG way to go. While my runs are  longer and considerably quicker than even a week or two ago, they are still ungodly slow, and I am a long way from being "back." This all takes time and frankly, I'm okay with that, I'm just happy to feel like a runner again!

So, as Jack Nicholson said in Something's Gotta Give, "It's all good news here." The plan is 54 miles this week ending one more week of just base building before the striders and tempo runs get thrown into the mix. Excited and ready to test out this recovery.

Run on!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Random Stuff in an "Uneventful" Week

Ryan, Brian, and me. 40 miles between us.
Well, for starters, let's take a moment to rejoice two things: First, I ran 46 miles last week, the most I have run in a week since August (eleven months ago). Second, Sunday I went 12 miles. It was also eleven months ago the last time I went that far (coincidentally, or not,  in the same week). The run was easy, six miles out and six back on the Highline Canal. And unlike last weeks 11 mile Light Rail run, I did not bonk like some sort of never-run-in-the-heat rookie. The Canal was packed.

One of the reasons for the ease of this run, is the steady improvement of my knee. After seven months of 50/50 recovery since surgery, I seemed to have turned the corner. There is still some discomfort, I still don't like stairs at all (although I never have), but on most runs, I have more problems in other parts of my body than I do in/on my knee.

With sixteen weeks until the New York City Marathon, I plan to gradually work my way up to 18-20 mile long runs and try to get in three before the big day. While this wouldn't be ideal for optimal running/racing, it'll do for the first marathon back less than a year after surgery. PLUS, I'll get to make my fourth appearance at New York and stand a good chance of making it to the end before being escorted from the course for excessive slowness.

So far, race prep will entail 3-4 other "races." In roughly four weeks, I'll run one of my favorite races, the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon. I believe this will be about my tenth GTIS. I'm positive it will be my slowest, maybe even an hour slower than my best there of 1:25:25. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. This second half of 2017 is all about feeling like a runner again and recovering from this cold, cruel, knee issue.

Mason near Crested Butte
Then, on Labor Day, I'm excited to run the first Fortitutde 10K in Fort Collins. Patterned after the Bolder Boulder, the course looks fun, fast, and finishes inside the new Colorado State football stadium. The third race will be the Hot Chocolate 15K in Denver. This one is about 5 weeks out from NYC and should be a nice "speed work" kind of run.

On other fronts, my wife Linda's, grandson, Mason, AKA DJ Brown returned home Saturday from 20 days at the Team Prep USA Running Camp in Crested Butte. Lots of the best kids from around the country, great coaching, fantastic trails, and 20 days. Perfect for a kid as serious as Mason. The goal, of course, is to have the best senior year possible.

Also: the 12 mile run was the longest ever for my son Ryan. After years of letting the running thing just kind of go due to a lack of interest (he ran a 6:22 mile in the first grade), he seems to be loving getting out there and has his sights set on his first Half Marathon at the Denver Rock n Roll in October almost a year to the day of being flat on his back in the hospital, fighting just to stick around.

Kilan Jornet - Badass
Lastly, one word: BADASS. That's my word for the GOAT of mountain runners, Kilian Jornet. This weekend Kilian was in Colorado to defend his Hardrock 100 crown (he had won the last three). While descending a mountain 13 miles or so into the course, he fell, rolled several times and emerged with a dislocated shoulder. Undaunted, he RE-located it himself and went on to run the next 87 miles "with one arm tied behind his back." He won by 25 minutes. On the other side of the globe, a Wimbledon finalist whined about a blister.


Run on.