Thursday, September 20, 2012

"There's a guy with a red cross over there. Don't shoot at him."

Yes, those are the words of Bill Cosby in his famous Medic routine. I hope no one shoots at me, I feel bad enough as it is.

Last Saturday, on a routine 10 mile run, I noticed a tightness in my right calf. Tight soon became sore and graduated quickly to knotted. I walked the last mile. I knew what it was immediately because this visitor has crossed my path before. It was/is: The Calf Heart Attack.

Over a decade ago, we were introduced. First noticed at the 18 mile mark of the 1993 Long Beach Marathon, it began feeling like a severe calf pull (to be honest, I thought I'd been shot in the calf and having been a Detroiter, I actually checked for blood). I tried to back off - no help. A sub three hour marathon became a 3:40. I visited, over the next six months, in no particular order, an M.D., a chiro-dude, an herbalist, the acupuncture guy and everyone else I could conjure up. Then, I found it. I read John Parker Jr's article entitled Calf Heart Attack. (the latest version of that article, adapted for The Stick, can be found at http://www.thestick.net/Articles/Calf_%20Heart_%20Attack.htm . By the way, Parker's remedy worked perfectly, albeit slowly.

The CHA emerged again in 2006, but was head off at the pass in a short time (it was easier then as I was averaging 4 miles a day and had no racing plans). This time, I'm not so sure.

The Savannah Marathon is a mere six weeks and a day away. My training has been going quite well. I felt fully prepared to actually run very well. I have lost nearly 30 pounds. Now, all I'm trying to do is hold on patiently (well, I must confess that I am only cognitively patient. Inside I am angry, sad and a little panicked).

"Major Setback"
I figured I could take a week to ten days off, and still be okay. Today was Day Five and I'm losing patience (there's that word again) and hope. While on the ten scale the discomfort might be one point better, that's not much to get excited about. At any given time I am attached to either an ice bag or the dreaded Stick. The day after yesterday, it actually felt decent until I walked to the mailbox and felt it grab again. Major setback!

And then there is the quest. In the past 46 years, one month, I have logged 99,971 miles. I was supposed to hit 100,000 on a run Tuesday. That run is on hold. The reality is that the 100,000 will come. In fact, my original goal this year was to accomplish the magic number prior to the Mayan Calendar running out in December. I'm assuming that is still a safe bet. Add to that, that I haven't missed more than one consecutive day of running in the last two and a half years and I'm in trouble! I need my fix!!!

Tomorrow, I will attend the RocknRoll Denver Expo in the hope that it will lift my spirits. I'll also try a bike ride. That might help as well. 

Trying to be patient, but I make a lousy patient. I'd rather be running. Send good vibes and the "P" word. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nine Good Days

As time continues to fly towards the Savannah Marathon, training must get more geared to quality. As this phase begins, the last nine days saw three things: 1) a race, 2) a 20 mile run and 3) some speed work. Yikes!

The race was the Aetna Park to Park 10 mile. Beautifully charted to wind its way through five Denver parks, the park to park is a rolly (but not severely so) course, and also a fun one! I chose to forego the shuttle busses and rides and parked between the start and finish. It provided a 3 mile warm up to the start and a 3 mile cool down afterward.


The WU went like clockwork. The 3 miles, then stretching a bit, some pickups and drills and then the usual fidgeting prior to the start. I placed my self about a fifth of the way back from the front and awaited the gun.

The first mile was downhill and control was the main requirement. My hope was to not get too carried away and pass the marker over 8 minutes. I was 8:05. Basically, I had three goals in place. My low goal was to average 9 minutes a mile. If this happened, I would be extremely disappointed but wouldn't throw myself in front of a bus upon completion. It was, the worst acceptable scenario. My real sort of goal was to average under 8:30 at a reasonable effort. Reasonable effort is defined as a heart rate average not to exceed 165. The ultimate would have been to run under 1:20:00. Having a pretty good feel for my condition after 46 years of running and racing, I knew this was WAAAAYYY out there, but hey, it would have been cool just the same.

Miles 2 and 3 brought us back into City Park (the start park) and was mostly uphill but truly nothing you would visually notice much. Those went 8:18 and 8:10. Leaving the park I was relaxed, had a heart rate around 160 and was in control. The next three miles were either flat or those gradual, long pesky uphill streets. In Cheeseman Park just before 5 miles, there was a nice little downhill woosh, but it was soon negated by some ups on the other side of the park. My uphill/cruising miles were 8:33, 8:41 and 8:39.


Two things happened in the seventh mile. First there was a nice 300 yard downhill early and second, a guy went by and said, C'mon, we can do it." 8:01. Mile 8 passed in 8:34 and around that point a significant number of people appeared to run out of gas. I passed a couple at mile 8 and he said to his mate, "keep an eye on him, he'll be back."

Mile 9 was an 8:34 and the final mile closed out the ten at 8:13. All in all, it was a lot of fun. My time of 1:23:50 was good for 207th place and THIRD in my age group. I'm trying desperately to come off as excited even though I have college training logs that say, "ten miles easy : 56 minutes." For the record, I posted the picture on the left on Facebook in the hopes that the couple at the eight mile mark could see the front of my shirt since I never saw them again.

Fearing some soreness, I logged an easy 6 the next morning and self massaged my pounded quads. Surprisingly, nothing negative to report. I went for a moderately quick 8 the next morning and backed off a bit the next two days. Saturday, I went 12, feeling pretty good.

Sunday, it was 20 mile time. My goal was to go easy, either side of ten minute pace and see how my body handled the run. Luckily, the weather was cooler than usual and that allowed for a little less H2O consumption (about 70 ounces compared to 120 on the hotter summer days). I dodged the bikes and the hundreds of others out and about and ended up right at about 10:10 pace, but with a very low 130 as the heart rate average. Best part: VERY easy!

Again, I thought I'd be sore the next day, but my post stress ritual of fluids and quad massage seemed to do the trick. So yesterday I ran a nice, fairly brisk 11. 

The original plan for today was to run around ten miles and hit some 400 repeats tomorrow. A change in my work plan caused me to move the 400's to today. 4 miles at tempo (probably 8:20 ish), 3 miles easy with some buildups thrown in and then it was time for the SPEED!

I run my 4s and 8s on a road in the Cherry Creek State Park. The first 150 of the 400 is slightly downhill, the next 150 is as slightly up. Then it's 100 flat (with the last 30 meters a little down for the finish). All in all, it's a good spot: asphalt, absolutely no traffic and a 200 jog loop back to the start. 

Six months ago, I did this exact workout and averaged just under 1:40 for the 400s (1:39.8 to be exact). This time it was 1:38.9, 37.3, 36.8, 35.7, 37.7, 37.5, 37.6, 32.3 for an average of 1:36.6. Gotta say I was pretty happy as while the effort was strong, it was not "difficult." I finished with a three mile cooldown to get me home, logging 13 for the day.

The rest of the week will contain a hill workout and a tempo run and maybe, just maybe, a 5K on Sunday. Hey, I'm feeling a little zippy. Now that I am logging some quality oriented miles, it's time to let go a little. As I have slowly moved into this training chunk, I've been somewhat overcautious. Having passed those tests, it's time to stoke up the flame.

The quest to hit 100,000 miles gets ever so close as it looks like next Tuesday will be the day. 78 miles to go!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

August and The Halfway Report

The end of August brings to close a good training month and the halfway point in training for the Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon. After nine weeks of my eighteen week training block (689 miles so far, or 76.5 per week), I am happy to report all systems are go! I feel like I have a nice base of work leading in to the coming weeks as I shift to more quality, less quantity. Long runs as follows 15 miles (3 times), 16 miles (twice), 17, 18, 19 have all helped build the foundation. Will get a few 19-22 in the next five weeks.

August contained 325 miles and that is the second best month I have had in a decade (the best being July with 369). It was pretty easy to be motivated in August with the Olympics going. The highlight had to be my run of Mt. Tamalpais and the Muir Woods.

I began the 18 week block at 220.8 pounds and am down to 195.4. The progress has been slow and steady and can be attributed to a great combination of training and cutting out sugar and bad carbs. My goal was to be at 175 by November 3, so barring the unforeseen, I might make it. Hopefully, I'll finish the year around 165 (that would be an awesome weight for me) and will spend 2013 maintaining.

Park to Park ten mile race tomorrow in Denver. Planning to run steady and heart rate monitored. Then a 5K the next weekend and the Denver Half on September 22. Mostly want to return to a racing mindset after twelve years of non-racing.

As a side note, the quest to 100,000 miles moves on with less than 200 to go. Not sure what day I will cross over but I'm guessing in about 15-18 days

Stay safe and have a great run!