Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Time to get my stretch on

I've been getting lots of advice on the left knee issue I reported over the weekend. Truth is, I am not entirely certain if it's the runner's knee or IT band friction syndrome, but I am leaning toward the IT band at this point.

I liked what Andrew had written saying that injury may be part of the program. At a minimum, it is teaching me about my training and my body's response.

I've never been a good stretcher. In fact, I may be a candidate for the most inflexible human being on earth. I damn near crack in half when I try to touch my toes. Nevertheless, I'm going to start gettin' my stretch on. It seems inevitable if I want to lick this knee problem.

I went out yesterday morning for recovery 4-miler. I wore a knee band that I bought at Walmart for some additional support. The knee felt OK, but I was glad to be done. I could still feel some discomfort.

Good news for today: No knee pain whatsoever. Oh wait, that' s because I didn't run. Damn. But I did go to the gym to test the knee a little bit on the elliptical, the bike and some easy strength training. All went well. Felt perfect.

I'm saving up for tomorrow morning's run. I hope to do a solid 7.

My immediate focus is to try to run the Vegas Half injury-free 11 days from now. I'm skeptical on a PR given my state, but I won't write it off altogther either. Can't believe I need to start Boston training right afterward.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Breaking 1,500 miles YTD leads to... runner's knee?

My best long run since the Oct 22 marathon...

Yesterday, I met with Matt, a guy who trained for Chicago with the CARA group, for a long run up at Wheaton meeting point. He fell short of his BQ goal in Chicago and will now head to Arizona for the R'n'R marathon out there Jan to try for 3:10.

It seemed like a good opportunity for me to push to at least 16 miles for my half marathon prep. Matt wanted to run twenty, and I agreed to let him go the final four alone.

This was my hardest training run since the marathon five weeks earlier. Personally, I think Matt's long runs are too fast for his goal, but I decided he needs to figure out what works for him on his own. I know that I ran slower than him on most of the long runs for Chicago. Yet it was me who was able to finish strong to run the 3:10. I learned from experience not to run too fast.

We did 8 out and 8 back with only a quick 3-minute break at the midpoint to GU up and hydrate. We ran 7:20-7:25 pace the entire way. My HR was in the high 150's/low 160's -- right where I expected it to be for this kind of run. I had no interest in another 4-miles due to some discomfort, which I will get to later.

I just tallied it up. With this run, I crossed the 1,500 mile mark for 2006 and now am at 1,510 YTD.

WTD: This 16-miler puts me at 36 for the week. I had planned to do a 5-mile recovery run today, but that may be on HOLD as a result of the next topic.

On to the concerning news of the day...

I experienced some mild knee discomfort toward the end of yesterday's run -- about the last two miles. I felt some slight pain after last Sunday's 14-miler, but that pain did not last.

This week's pain, while still relatively moderate, has lasted almost 24 hours. For a couple of hours after yesterday's run, it was really a nuisance and I found myself limping a bit.

I am concerned that I may have developed the classic runner's knee ailment. The symptom is singular and simple: pain on the lower outer portion of my left knee cap, that intensifies with bending and running.

It's not intolerable at this point, but there is something unusual going on. I have not felt this pain since 2001, when I trained for my first marathon. Then, I attributed this pain to simply being a novice and overworking my knee. I had never put in any type of serious mileage.

Of the sites I explored on the topic, I found this one to be very informative.

The Vegas Half is two weeks away and paid for, of course. Additionally, Boston training is to begin the day after, which would give 18 weeks to race day. Bottom line: I don't have a lot of time for rest and recovery. And I have a good feeling that rest is the only remedy to heal.

I've been fortunate enough to run injury-free for years now. Now, however, as this issue crops up, I am at the peak of my running life and it will be a struggle to determine what the right way to handle the situation is.

Who knows, maybe I am overreacting and this goes away after 2 days rest? (...please...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving thanks

Things in my life that I am thankful for: My wonderful wife, my family, my career and its potential, my health, my drive and ability to run -- and run far, my financial stability, my freedom, my home, the general kindness of people towards me, our troops who sacrifice themselves for the rest of us Americans, football on Turkey day, the fond memories of the past, the satisfication of enjoying the present, and the promise of an even better future...

I did not get up to run either Turkey Trot races near my house today. Instead, I slept in and it was glorious.

My oldest, bestest friend was in town for the holiday. We stayed up last night drinking, laughing, playing music, drinking some more, eating and having fun. Suffice it to say, I did not feel like getting up to run hard today.

1:00 PM -- I had this entire post written assuming I wouldn't run today. Then, at halftime of the Lions game, a spark of motivation hit me. My wife, an occassional runner at best, said she was going out. I decided I needed to get my arse off the couch.

The weather is wonderfully bright and sunny today. It was a beautiful run. I ran sub 1/2 marathon race pace for 4 miles. I surprised myself. I thought I was too hung over and sore from yesterday's 10-miler to run like that.

In the end, I was quite proud of my run. And I was able to sleep in and save a few bucks by not entering the race.

Week to date activity

Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 5 miles recovery - 44:00
Wednesday - 10 miles EZ - 1:19:30 (didn't feel "EZ")
Thursday - 5 miles total - 4 miles at 6:37 pace + 1 mile cooldown - Total: 35:30

Remainder of week plan

Friday - Rest, enjoy the day off
Saturday - 16 miles with Matt F - Target 7:45 pace
Sunday - 5 mile recovery

Off to a Thanksgiving feast especially for two. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Eyes on Sin City - Back up to 40mpw

So I've implied lately that I had doubts about registering for the Vegas Half on Dec 10, but I needed to create some motivation and self-drama to get myself up for training for this race.

I did not want to register until I hit this week's mileage target of 40, which was dependent upon this evening's planned 14-miler. Well, I nailed this run, which I ran in pitch dark, cold evening conditions just a short time ago.

We just got back from a Denver visit to my sister's at about 5:45 PM. I ran in Denver the last two days with the mile-high altitude and relatively hilly conditions. I did 5 miles on Friday (7:45 pace) and 5 mile recovery yesterday (8:55).

I could feel the altitude, baby, but what glorious running. Weather was brilliant: Bright, clear, beaming sun as I trotted around the Denver suburb of Littleton.

Tonight, I felt like a blood-doping Kenyan after running at 5,280 feet the last 2 days. This evening, I was flying on pancake flat concrete at near sea level.

My heart rate was way down from the 10-miler I did mid-week. I can't explain it, but I felt STRONG. Maybe I simply was tired earlier in the week.

Tonight, I knocked out over 14 miles at about 7:39 pace total with an average heart rate of 150. Contrast that to the Wednesday 10-miler at 7:49 with a 160 bpm average.

Change of plan for my Turkey Trot. I won't be doing the Naperville Turkey Trot. I will instead be doing the 4-mile poultry predictor in Joliet.

The concept seems kind of fun. The goal is to predict your time before you run. The closest predictors win a Thanksgiving bird. (obviously, no watches allowed.) Plus, this is a registration cost savings of $17.00 vs. the Naperville 5k.

Let's just say that I'm feeling the sticker shock of the $90.80 entry fee I just paid for the Vegas half (which included a $5.80 Active.com charge). Highway robby. Ah well, what we do to compete on the big stage.

Recap of 11/13 week

Mon - Rest
Tue - 6 recovery
Wed - 10 before work
Thu - Rest
Fri - 5.25 Easy - Littleton, CO
Sat - 5.2 Recovery - Littleton, CO
Sun - 14.2 - Back home
Total: 40+

Plan for 11/20 holiday week

Mon - Rest
Tue - 6 recovery+speed - will include 10x100m strides
Wed - 10 before work - Easy pace around 8-8:30
Thu - 4 mile turkey trot predictor - Early prediction: 25:40
Fri - Rest
Sat - 16 - training run w/Matt F (Boston hopeful)
Sun - 4-5 recovery
Goal total: 40-42

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why the elevated heartrate?

I've run 16 miles WTD with 24 to go. When I get to 40 this week successfully, I will then sign up for the Vegas Half.

Monday - Well-deserved rest.
Tuesday - 6-miler - easy 8:34 pace
Wednesday - 10 miles

This morning, I knocked out a 10-miler. All went well, but it felt more taxing than I expected.

I do have concern over my heart rate. It seems much more elevated than during my marathon prep. Does this mean I have lost my fitness? Let's look at some data.

Check out a 10-miler from Oct 14 (8 days before the marathon) -- about a 7:48 pace (click image)

Check out today's run - same exact distance, same exact pace (click image)

You can see my average heart rate was 151 a month ago - and it was 160 this morning. That's alarming to me. What gives?

Granted, I am not doing 50 mile weeks, but I thought I was doing a nice job to ease back toward 30-40 in a 3-4 week period. Apparently, not enough to keep my heart in shape?!

I plan to do an easy six in the morning tomorrow, before flying out to Denver in the evening. I will do an easy 4 either Friday or Saturday with rest on one of the days.

On Sunday, when we arrive back home in Chicago, I hope to embark on an evening 14-miler in the dark.

Not ideal, but I don't have any other time to fit it in with our family visit to my sis's. It would not be fair to go disappear for a couple of hours during a short weekend visit with family that I don't see often.

Plus, with my elevated HR, I don't even want to try a long run at mile high altitude!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Flash of resilience

Just yesterday, I wasn't feeling too confident about my plan to run a good half mary in Vegas on Dec 10th. I carried the weight of taking on too much.

The doubt, combined with my cold, and just the uneasiness of pushing myself back into the rigor of training for a goal took a psychological toll on me the last couple of days (as was evidenced from Friday's post).

I got out yesterday with a plan to do 4.5 miles, see how I felt, and then try to stretch it to 12 after a GU/water stop if my body was up for it. Let's just say that my run ended at 4.5. The winds were whipping and I was simply tired.

Enter today. I knew I needed a solid double-digit mile run if I had a prayer to get ready for the Vegas half. The weather conditions were milder and I decided to head up the Prairie Path.

I had planned to do 10. In the end, I ran my own private half marathon today. With some decent pace to boot (final mile of 6:31). Monster comeback from the depths of doubt that I was feeling yesterday.

Total miles: 13.1 - Total time: 1:39:00 - Pace: 7:33 per mile

(click image to see the splits)

I've learned about how difficult our cycles can be on us runners. I've also learned not to underestimate my ability to rebound back after feeling down and out.

I may be running that Vegas half after all. Next week is crucial.

Recap of 11/6/06 week

Mon 11/6 - 3.0 miles - hard and fast
Tue 11/7 - None
Wed 11/8 - Travel / None
Thu 11/9 - 7.5 miles (est) - Norwalk
Fri 11/10 - 5.5 miles recovery - Back home
Sat 11/11 - 4.5 miles @ 7:55 pace
Sun 11/12 - 13.1 miles - 7:34 pace - Prairie path

Total: 33.6 miles

Plan for 11/13 week - Goal of 40 miles

This week will be challenging with travel to visit family in Denver for the weekend. I know that Sunday's 14-miler will be difficult with the time of the day, but I'm going to give it my best.

Mon 11/13 - Rest
Tue 11/14 - 6 miles w/tempo - 3 miles at 6:45 pace
Wed 11/15 - 10 miles - early AM
Thu 11/16 - 6 - Leave for Denver in the evening
Fri 11/17 - Rest - In Denver visiting family
Sat 11/18 - 4 miles easy - Denver visiting family
Sun 11/19 - Evening 14 miler -Flight lands in Chicago at 4:30 - This run will start no earlier than 6PM - in the dark & cold. Can I do this?

If flight is delayed, will push a long run to Monday morning.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Demons of doubt - Vegas-bound?

[cckkwack!] That's me clearing mucus from my throat. Throat swelled up last night on my flight from NY and here I am now, nose running, inhaling Airborne - despite the knowledge it's too late for that. Colds suck.

It's Friday night at 7:30 and I am damn near exhausted from a hectic week. This week was more about my career than my running.

On Tuesday, I led an all-day business strategy review meeting for 20 people, which our new Global Head of Procurement attended. Nothing like have your boss's, boss's, boss, whom you never met, fly over from London and assess your work. All went well.

Preparing for this meeting required late nights, which curbed the mileage. Then it was onto my flight to NY to get to our Norwalk office on Wed AM.

Onto my running. I am very, slowly creeping back into my pre-marathon form. My plan was to go for 32 miles this week.

Monday, I crushed 3 hard miles before work. It's all I had time for. I did three in 20:30 with the last mile at 6:17.

Had planned to sneak in 4 on Wed eve in Norwalk, but it was pissing rain and I was beat.

Thursday AM, I got in a nice 7.5 miler in very beautiful, mild weather on my old stomping grounds in Norwalk.

Today, head congested and all, I did an easy 5.5 miler at 8:40 pace. This put me at 16 for the week.

Now, I have this cold. I am home on Friday night at 7:30 ready to go to bed.

My plan was to try to do 12 tomorrow. Tomorrow it is supposed to be cold - a "feels like" high of 28, with possible showers. I don't want to get sick further.

The Vegas Half is in 4 weeks. I need to confess that I am having second thoughts about entering Vegas. I have not registered as yet.

My plan was to try to maintain my marathon fitness and PR in Vegas. Then, I would be ready to kick into Boston training.

With my schedule, I am just not sure that I will be in the shape I need to be in to PR. The weather has turned on us. The holidays are here. I am going to Denver next weekend to visit my sis, which will make training tough.

The other part of me says "suck it up and do your best". Why should I continue to pressure myself. So maybe I won't run a sub 1:30 in vegas. What if I just trained my best under the cirumstances.

Then the other side says, why waste a $85 entry fee - and go to bed early in sleepless Vegas for a 6 AM start (read: boring) if you think you won't run your best? (yes, $85 for a flippin' half - ridic!)

Plus, Boston training starts right after the half. BUT, my parents will be in Vegas to cheer me on, which has never happened before. So why not run?

The PR marathon feels like a year ago already. My body has been creaky and I have not run more than 8 miles since Oct 22.

So why push myself? Then I thought about how I have never watched a large marathon. So what if I just cheered the Vegas marathoners and rested for Boston training? That would be fun ... and pathetic.... and a cop-out for a highly capable runner... ?

Ah, self-induced anxiety of a runner.... [sigh]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Trying to get back into form

Here is a quick entry. My half marathon plan, I’ve decided, will be tough to follow to the letter (as was proven the first week). I am really busy right now. Plus, I felt somewhat fatigued on Friday's 8-miler. Makes me wonder if I am fully recovered from Chicago.

Just got back from a weekend of fun visting my alma mater, Michigan State. No running there. Plenty of eating and drinking much beer. Getting on the scale in the morning. Expecting to be up a couple of pounds.

Although I fell short of my mileage goal, I am OK with it. I need to ease up and relax, otherwise I would risk burning out. If I can get in two 40+ mile weeks and three runs of 12 or more before the Vegas half, I will be happy.

Recap of this week

Mon - 5 miles
Tue - Rest
Wed – 6.2
Thu - 5
Fri – 8.2 miles
Sat – 0
Sun – 0
Total: 24+

I need to focus on work the next few days, so running will be tough. I have an important 1-day workshop that I am running on Tuesday, then travel on Wed-Thurs. However, I will try to get to 30-32 this coming week.

Goal schedule for this week.

Mon – 3 miles easy AM
Tue – Rest – running all day workshop
Wed – 4 in the PM – Travel to Norwalk in the AM

Thu – 8 in the AM – Track work at Norwalk HS
Fri – 5 Recovery
Sat – 12 with group

Goal total: 32