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.

Badass. 

Run on.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

110,000 Milestone and Magnolia Part 2

110,000 miles


Around the world almost five times
Today, on an uneventful, but incredibly HOT run in Chandler, AZ (101 degrees at the run's beginning), I passed 110,000 miles. I'm not bragging, of course, but that's almost five times around the Earth at the equator. 

The journey that began 50 years, 10 months, and 16 days ago has hit another milestone. While I am proud of this milestone, I would like to think that at least two more await: 120,000 miles and 200,000 kilometers (124,274.3 miles). Looking at the math, we'll see.

It took 46 months and 25 days to run the last 10,000 miles. That's roughly 5.78 miles per day. That's including a pathetic start to this year, barely 400 miles in the first six months. Nonetheless, that would bring me to 120,000 somewhere around mid-March of 2022. The ripe old age of 71. That means that if I can hang on another few years at the lovely 5.78 per day, I will only need another 739 days (slightly over 2 years) to nail the 200,000 kilometers. 

I realize, by the way, that there are some variables at work that, at this time, cannot be foreseen. How will my knee go in the next few years? How will Father-Time mess with the rest of me? Will I melt from global warming?

I remember watching the awards ceremony for the 1994 NYC Marathon. The oldest finisher in the race that year was Robert Earl Jones, 89 years young. He was so cool. Little biker hat (cycling, not motorcycle), long white hair, skinny as a rail. He was truly inspiring. THAT was the day I decided to run till I was well into my 80's. 

So, in the end, who knows how many miles are left in the tank or what the future holds. 

Flashback:    The 100,000th mile.   http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-100000-mile-report.html 

Magnolia Road: The return.
Looking down the first mile

Last Sunday, my son Ryan and I ran 10 miles on Magnolia Road above Boulder. For him, it marked his first double digit run ever. For me, it was my longest run since my surgery and a return to the hilly beast that is Mags. (see my first visit at http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2016/03/magnolia-road-lives-up-to-its.html ).

My last run on Magnolia Road was a fifteen mile affair on a nice day in March of 2016. My recollections are slightly overdone in that I thought I ran it much faster than I actually did. In fact, my per mile average this time was a mere 20 seconds slower than last, truly a testament to how slow I was at the time. I digress.

Sunday's run began, as it does on Mags, with a .87 mile downhill. I must confess, my knee didn't like it much. Once descended, the roller coaster of hills began. At any given moment on Mags, you're either going up or down.
Nice view of the continental divide 4 miles up

The day was cool with clouds sitting just above and sometimes within the trees. It made for a beautiful sight. Given the coolness and the absence of the University of Colorado Cross Country team, the road was considerably less crowded than my first visit. On the way out we saw an obviously very fit young woman hauling along at a quick pace followed by an equally fit gentleman I'd guess to be in his fifties. Then, THEY came by.

A group of lean, mean, young fellas flew by chattering like they were discussing everything that could possibly be discussed. They said HI, gave the usual Mags encouragements and disappeared into the clouds.

The fourth and fifth miles, were a struggle being mostly UPhill. My knee had begun feeling considerably better, but my lack of miles had caught up with me early. At about 4 3/4, Ryan came by heading back. I handed him the car key and he blazed on (Ryan, by the way, is a natural distance runner. He ran a 6:22 mile in the FIRST grade. He has never really taken his running seriously before now and I am anxious to see what he might be able to do once in great shape). Then, I hit the turnaround.

I have to confess, I felt pretty okay coming back. The miles clicked off nicely. My knee felt good. I got into a bit of a zone. I could no longer see Ryan on the road ahead when I heard the pitter-patter of studly feet as the chattering fellas flew by on their return. "Did they really run out to the 7.5 mile turnaround and are already coming back," I thought. As before, they were encouraging, almost annoyingly so.


Dallas Baptist cross country guys group it up
I pressed on. Then, the last mile happened.

Now if you recall, the first .87 miles of this run were downhill. So, because I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, I was acutely aware that the last .87 miles would be UPhill. So I looked upward, up the hill, not to the heavens, and trudged on. Amazingly, the clouds had dropped even more and visibility was almost non-existent. I knew one thing, however, the road kept going up and my car was at the top. So like any red-blooded American tech user, I relied on my Suunto Ambit3 GPS to keep me informed.

With about a 1/4 mile to go, I could see an RV. Next to it were a bunch of guys chattering. Yep, the fellas had lived through their quickly paced 13 mile run (they hadn't gone all the way out as I had thought). Then Ryan emerged and the run was over.

The fellas, who turned out to be seven cross country guys from Dallas Baptist University, gave me a plethora of high fives and kudos (probably being the oldest, fattest, guy they'd ever seen run hills). Then we chatted a bit. They were on a two week self-imposed high altitude camp and their next stop was Estes Park. Good guys (but most cross country kids are).

Ryan informed me of the ease and speed at which he ran the back part of our out and back, and then we were off.

So, I conquered Magnolia Road once again. Well........ lived to tell about it again. It is a tough run and once navigated, you can clearly see why it is a staple of the CU cross country success. I vowed to return in a few weeks perhaps lighter, in better shape, but knowing that any run can be tough if you make it that way.

Run on.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Feeling Groovy. Six Months Down, YEARS to go!

Bolder Boulder 2017
June 1 was the six month surgery-versary for my knee. Better than that, it marks about six weeks of consistent running. Nothing incredible, mind you, just a steady flow of extremely slow miles run in fear of the next step.

Yeah, it's true. The last six weeks have been run in a constant fear that the next step would be the one that caused SERIOUS knee damage. That, however, is something that has come to an almost conclusive end. About a week ago, it dawned on me that I run so slow (most miles at 12:30 + pace) because I am scared of going faster, scared of pushing it. So, I looked back for some reinforcement.

I had just run 9 miles without incident and logged a 40 mile week. If my knee was going to give out, surely that would have been a good time, right? Well, it didn't. Next came the Bolder Boulder, Six point Two miles of asphalt and concrete in the People's Republic of Boulder, surely that would be the breaking point. It wasn't.

In fact the Bolder Boulder showed that I could push a bit and still be okay. Everyone in our group: Ryan, Brian, Mason all set personal records. I was elated to be thirty minutes off my BB PR at 1:06:33. Up until the BB10K, I had yet to run a mile under 11 minutes. On Memorial Day, I strung together 6 of them, with a best of 10:11. I don't ever remember being happier at a BB10K finish line.


Six Months Ago
I realize that this is not the story of quickness or a comeback. It is, however, the story of seeing a hope and a future for this 50 year running career. And frankly, I was getting a bit worried about that.

Life changes. The 30 and 40 mile weeks seem pale in comparison to the good old days. Ha! The good old days. While organizing some logbooks, I found a stretch of weeks from 1991 where the mileage went: 101,105, 107, 82, 101, 106, 100, 71, 109, 120, 100, 89, 104, 106, 100, 82, 100. Holy crap! That's 1683 miles in seventeen weeks! And no injuries. Incredible. THAT was a while ago.

For now, I'll take 30-40 going on 50 as I build for the New York Marathon in five months. At least, at this point, I see that as something that can happen. When I was scared, I didn't.

I still feel the knee. Most days the discomfort (I hesitate to call it pain) is a one on the ten scale. Occasionally it peaks up to a three. Heck, most days, the rest of my body feels worse than my knee as I come trudgingly closer to 110,000 total miles (that's 120 miles away). 

It's been a long trail. Still nowhere near the end.

Run on! 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

One Step at a Time!

Yeah, that's right. I ran 22 miles last week. This long period (almost six months) of languishing in the depths of non-runningness has been brutal. But with the help of the ever incredible Dr. Carly May, I seem to be back on the path to being a runner again. I've been dry needled, adjusted, ART'd, stretched, jackhammered, and more. I'm doing knee exercises, hip exercises, working my quads, and who knows what else. It's slowly working.

The highlight of the week was 5 miles of revenge on the Highline Canal. I say revenge simply because it was there, on the Highline six months ago, that I knew I was done running until my knee could be fixed. So, even at a turtle-like 12 minute pace, revenge was sweet.

The best part, however, has been running in my favorite place, the Cherry Creek State Park. I've missed the trails and especially the woods. I've missed the familiarity of running in that fantastic escape from the surrounding hustle and bustle of the city. I've missed running in my backyard, my home away from home.

Another plus has been being able to run with my youngest son Ryan a few days a week. He goes a lot slower than he would probably like in order to run with the old man and I appreciate it. He's always been a runner (ran a 6:22 in the 1st grade), but he never quite found his place with the sport. Maybe now. Who knows, right?

My knee's not perfect. Far from it. While it doesn't really hurt much (maybe 2 on the ten scale), it feels unstable but not really fall over unstable. It's like I know it is there and it isn't quite right yet. The discomfort is outweighed by the joy of being back out there. AND, I see improvement almost daily. So, as Kilian Jornet says, "I think my big moment is always tomorrow."

See you tomorrow. Run on.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Progress!

Not my knee, but I was tempted today to take a picture
I had my second visit with the amazing Dr. Carly today. I'd call my feeling, as I left, "guarded optimism." After months of not running, the word I see there is optimism.

During my first visit ten days ago, she (like me) was a bit taken back by the lack of progress my knee had seen. So, she gave me the works: Dry Needling (with added electronics), adjusting, ART (active release therapy), stretching, exercises, you name it. Then said, "you can't run for two weeks." What?   The issue seems to not just be my knee, but everything around my knee which all is appearing to be way too weak. I was sent home with some exercises. I'm not good with exercises, I confess, but this time I have been diligent.

Friday I walked six miles easily without pain or discomfort (by the way, I have run six miles THOUSANDS of time but never walked that far). Saturday I was getting around REALLY well. Sunday I went fishing and did a little scampering on a sandy hill with no discomfort. Yesterday, I walked the stairs at home like a real live person, and look Ma, no hands. So I was ready for my visit. Maybe a little cocky even.

Today, more needles, some cool mini-jackhammer thing, some big-time hip flexing and many compliments about how well I was doing. On my post session walk, my good knee felt worse than my "bad" one. SO...... I hope to run next week. I want to make sure there are no setbacks when I get back into it, so I might be being a little overly cautious (and I'm okay with that).

Send me a good vibe if you can spare one and run on....

Thursday, March 9, 2017

It's Billy Yang's Fault: Pity Party Over (FINALLY)

My last real run was back in September, the 24th I believe. It was a very sore, almost crippling 5 miles on the Highline Canal. Since that day, almost a half a year ago, I have run about 30 miles. I have gained 20 pounds. I have blamed my doctor, poor physical therapy, old age, bad luck, and just about anything or anyone I can blame. I'm done. It's all on me from here on out.

My first real run, if you want to call my 13+ minute a mile shuffle that, since the December 1st surgery, was 2 1/2 miles on February 16th. I really thought, first off, it would be sooner than that. I mean, football players get scoped and are back on the field in three weeks. And I am traversing nothing. It's straight line city, baby. So why did it take so long? I can answer that in three words: sixty-five years old. So, let's attack this thing like just that: someone who has been on the planet for sixty-five years.....with wisdom.

First, I will stop bitching about my surgeon. Mindset is everything and frankly, while I think she did a token job/went through the motions, I have to get past that. So, that's it, surgeon rant over (and it didn't really begin because I could REALLY elaborate on that one).

Next, I need help, so I will get some. I've tried to do what I have done for almost a half a century; cure my running ills myself. Well, after a very frustrating last 2+ months, we're starting with the wonderful Dr. Carly May tomorrow morning. We'll see where it goes from there.

You see, I don't have much pain, if any. My biggest issue that turned today's run into a walk is support. I just feel like the thing is going to give out. Maybe it's screwed up big time, maybe it just need to get stronger, maybe it just needs some K-Tape for some kind of support. Carly will know. She'll also be great to suggest the best strengthening exercises and some other PT like stuff. 

Sadly, I have spent the last few months being complacent with being a partial/non runner. I avoided my magazines, stopped watching running videos, and basically tried to deny who I am. Then, somehow tonight, I found Billy Yang's latest movie, Life in a Day (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYgcTJBLwsU). Then I found his 2016 recap. Then I found Jim Walmsley, Kilian Jornet, and then it was all over. I recaptured my love. Just like in a corny movie, my running pranced toward me in slow motion. I ran towards it in gimpy slow, slow motion. We embraced (you had me at hello).

Last year this "issue" cost me my running the San Francisco Marathon, the Squamish 50K, and the NYC Marathon on my 65th birthday. And not just the experiences, but like $600 bucks! And frankly, I'm sick of this. I have run almost 110,000 miles and I've got news, I'm not finished by a long shot.

There's much to do. My appointment is tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to running for real again. I'm looking to forward to taking my life back. 

Thanks Billy. Run on.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Six Week Knee Update. Guarded Optimism

It's been six weeks since my knee surgery and I am, what you might call a Guarded Optimist. Watch the video below for details....

Link to Video

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017. Gotta be Better Than This!

In keeping with my New Years recap habit, I am posting here today without much to recap. I did get in 1689 miles this year, which is certainly not my worst year, but not very satisfying as I was on track for 2500. Injuries kept me out of the San Francisco Marathon, the Squamish 50K, and the New York City Marathon. Lots of $$$ down the tube.

I found it though. It was August 15th, two days after a hard 12 mile run that I made the following notation in my training log: "back of left knee sore, stiff, non-supportive." The next day I missed my first day of running for 2016. After that, it was all downhill (more on that at http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2016/10/good-news-bad-news-bad-news-and.html).

On December 1, I had knee surgery. The proposed microfracture surgery was not performed as it was not deemed to be the best solution to my issues. SO, I was cleaned, tightened up and sent on my merry way (or not so merry way, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-Hl-ENbuck). Since then it was been ice, elevation and exercises.

Yesterday (the 1st) was my target for my first post-surgery run. It didn't happen. Instead I went for a three mile walk. Not very satisfying to say the least. The knee just isn't ready.

Swelling is down. Flexibility is up. Pain is minimal. Instability is the biggest culprit at this point, so I'll keep working it in the hope that within the next few weeks a real live run is possible. After that, we'll see. 

Run on (and get in a few for me).