Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eyeing a February Marathon

I have run one thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine miles so far in 2007. I am scheduled to come close to 2,100 by year-end – an earth-shattering single-year record for me. As I sit on this Boeing 777 about forty minutes outside of O’Hare, I cannot believe there are only four and half weeks left in this year.

I have had this eight-hour flight to plan, reflect and refocus my running, career and life goals for the remainder of the year and on into next. I also want to start thinking about my personal goals for 2008 – not in just running, but in all aspects of my life. With a baby on the way, I am bracing myself for major personal changes in the coming year.

Fortunately, I have developed a cautious level of spirited optimism over the past couple of days regarding the Achilles tendon issue that I was moaning about last week. I have not had any pain or discomfort over the past few runs. Maybe my three-day rest and icing actually helped?

On Saturday, I went to the gym to do some cross training and strengthening. I read that I should try to increase strength in my calves so that stress will not be displaced down on my Achilles tendons. My calves are still sore from the lifts. I also knocked out 20 minutes of elliptical and stairs before hitting a short 3-miler.

On Sunday before I left Chicago, I had a steady 12-miler with no issues. Before this particular run, I took the insert from an old pair of shoes, cut it in half and added the padding to my back right heel. I read that this would reduce my stress on the tendon. It seems to have worked.

I had a moist, cool six-mile run this morning through London’s Hyde Park before heading into the office. I feel good about getting this six in given a very compressed trip timeline, jet lag, a long business dinner and some late work last night. Again, no swelling, twinges or pain with Mr. Achilles.

After one final 2:00 AM conference call with Asia tonight, I plan to make some great strides in work-life balance. My piece of the China work will be complete after tonight. Though the work can be exciting, I cannot sustain working on projects in the time zones of three continents on a regular basis. It definitely screws up my running and my sleep!

For my balance of year training, I will hop onto the Pfitzinger 55mpw program to sync up with the February 17 marathon in Columbus beginning tomorrow. I will carefully monitor my body to ensure I do not get injured. If I sense any significant injury risk, I likely will back off and rethink the February marathon.

I do not want to just show up for this marathon, I want to have a real shot at a BQ. If I think the chances are low, then I don’t want to run it. It’s not exactly a destination marathon on a thrilling course. Therefore, I will carefully monitor my progress. If I can get through the next couple of weeks, stay healthy and hit all the miles, I will sign up. Probably. Maybe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Overblown Rant

I am experiencing an interesting affliction that began over the last day and a half. I feel this drive deep down inside of me to spring into action. To chase some challenging goal. To fulfill some deep-rooted ambition. Yet, I am feeling a sense of defeat and despair.

I set a plan into motion for a February marathon as I crushed a 17-mile run on Sunday. Now, I think I injured myself. My Achilles tendon in my right foot is bothering me.

I felt a very subtle, dull pain on Saturday as I coasted through a five miler in Las Vegas. I thought nothing of it.

We returned home late on Saturday night. I went out for my seventeen’er with great vengeance on Sunday. I was motivated by the news that Aaron and Steve just finished a BQ in Philly (before I even woke up!). I finished miles 16 and 17 at paces of 7:07 at 6:38.

I felt the same Achilles act up mid-way through the run, but it did not seem bothersome enough to stop. Sunday afternoon brought mild soreness. Monday brought a consistent sensation of heat on the area and noticeable swelling.

I reflected on the root cause. Last week, I rocked through the hills of Ivins, Utah (shown below). I ran a 6:21 downhill mile at the back end of a 10-miler on Wednesday. I did another six through the same hills on the next day, albeit much easier. I am wondering if the sudden intensity of incline was too much, too soon.

I am not foolish enough to think that this is some great tragedy. However, I am intrigued by the level of psychological impact it has had on me over the past 48 hours. It’s somewhat depressing. Will I able to resume to running soon enough? I am already bowing out of the Turkey Trot this week. I am fearful that I will aggravate it trying to run a 19-minute 5k.

When I try to turn my attention away from running, I get bored. Career seems very slow right now. No journeys to China. Wait, I am heading to London on Sunday for two days. Not looking forward to that. More work than it’s worth it seems.

Hold on a second. I have a pregnant wife. We just had more ultrasound pics taken yesterday. That’s quite thrilling, actually.

I am keenly conscious that this collection of thoughts sounds like a bit of a moan. Actually, it sounds like an outright, unjustifiable bitch. Nonetheless, I am feeling the letdown of what seems to be a perennial November slowdown.

I do not want to go the doctor with this little Achilles boo-boo. It’s very clear that’s what it is. So what can I do?

"Rest, mate. Enjoy your brilliant life. Give thanks to God and give yourself to others around you. 'Tis the season to show gratitude and help those in need." I am speculating that’s what my spiritual advisor would tell me -- if he was British, and if I actually had one.


Sunday, November 18, 2007


First, I need to offer up congratulations to some serious game-time performers today in the Philadelphia Marathon.

Here is a shout out of "WAY TO GO!" to my good friends Aaron and Steve who both put up BQ times today at Philly. Aaron put up his first BQ with a 3:10:52 with Steve shouting at him the final several miles to finish right along side him. Steve came back from a blown out knee in early 2007 and a disappointing DNF in Chicago to get back to the Big Dance in April. Great job, guys!

Also, I want to give an applause-laden congrats to Wayne for crushing his former PR of 3:09 to lay down a ... (SHAZAM!)... mind-boggling 2:55 today in Philly. Simply amazing!

You guys have me re-inspired.

We arrived back from our journey to Las Vegas last night. I stayed with my parents for a couple of days in St George, Utah while Jen attended a conference at the Las Vegas Hilton.

While in Utah, I capitalized on some amazingly gorgeous weather and knocked out a fantastic 10-miler on Wed with the gorgeous red rock around me. Southwest Utah is an amazing place to run.

Later, my parents and I drove the course of the St. George Marathon, which I am potentially lining up for next year. The elevation drop goes from 5,240' down to 2,680'. Wow, what a course! There is one major hill at mile 6.

Jen and I ended the week in Vegas for a short visit together and only ended up down $50 in craps. We did score tickets to Jerry Seinfeld at Caesar's Palace for Friday night, which was really funny.

Today, I hit my 17-miler as planned and finished really strong. See the splits below. I finished with 44 miles for the week.

On the down side, I am feeling the very early symptoms of what I believe is Achilles tendinits on the right back heel. I started yesterday in Vegas while doing a short 5-miler. It's not really excrutiating, but I think it is mildly swollen. I need to nurse it carefully over the next day or so. I will rest tomorrow.

Right now, I am trying to following Pfitz's plan and target the Last Chance to Boston marathon on Feb 13. Yes, some of you have expressed concern about running 26.2 one-mile laps, but think about the focus on time you would have!

Even I if were to somehow qualify, I do not know if I will go to Boston due to Jen's pregnancy. I'm going to play that by ear, but I want to stay healthy and try to qualify again in February. Now that my friends will be there, it would be great to go to Boston for the 2nd year in a row!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

All Fired Up

"I believe there comes a time, when everything just falls in line, we live and learn from our mistakes, the deepest cuts are healed by faith..."

Credit the above lines to Pat Benatar in her exhilarating single from 1988 entitled "All Fired Up". In fact, I never knew it was recorded so long ago until I just looked it up a moment ago. (I was guessing 1997!).

Yes, admittedly, Pat Benatar, as influential as she was in her prime, seems an unlikely source for running inspiration. I do proclaim, however, that it's one of the best motivating running songs I have ever heard. It was the anthem to my first marathon in Pittsburgh on May 6th, 2001. I pulled it out of the archives, thrilled to find that it pushed me at a torrid pace during a wonderful 15-mile run today.

(Editor's Note: Another adrenlanine spark is "Best Of You" by the Foo Fighters. Plug it into your playlist and let it fuel your next long run, and you'll know why.)

I had planned to take it easy over the next month or so. My wife tells me that it is OK to just relax and not push myself all the time. I know she is right.

Yet, yet there is a fire in the belly, a fuel in the furnace of the soul to celebrate my competitive spirit.

I tried to channel my energy into fictional writing, which a skill set that feel is lurking beneath the surface, as deep as it may be. This month is National Novel Writing Month. I cranked out over 8,000 words in 6 days and decided I wasn't happy. I enjoy writing. However, I found trying to write a 50,000 word novel in a month with little preparation overly daunting. I am thinking the route of non-fiction is what I fancy.

My career is also a healthy source of that buzz of challenge that I crave. I am about to deliver the final report from my work in China tonight at 2:00 AM on a conference call. Yes, you read that right. 2:00 AM Monday morning.

How could that be, you ask? Our top dog is in London and the other Exec are in Asia. Conveniently enough, this is the only available time for the leadership team and so the lowly schmuck in the States has to pay the price.

After I knock 'em dead on this call, I will re-focus my attention to my running endeavors.

I am preparing for my next marathon commitment in February. I keep Boston in the distant view. However, I need to respect the love of my life's concerns about our firstborn coming in early may. So I am unable to commit to the April 21 classic. (OK, maybe I already have the flight and hotel lined up for Boston, just in case the doctor says she will be really late!).

In the interim, I am gearing up for another marathon quest, for which there is 14 weeks to fulfill the dream. Check out the following marathon details and reviews here. It seems utterly foolish to run a marathon on a one-mile loop in the depths of winter in Ohio. However, there is an element of intrigue for me.

Here are the stats from today's run. I cranked out 37 miles this week, my best ever week for the second week after a marathon. I feel strong.

One Final note: I set a goal to run 1,750 miles total in 2007. I am please to report I surpassed that mark this week. I am contemplating at run at 2,100 miles in 2007 with my latest marathon planning. Run onward...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Another Kind of Marathon

I enjoyed six full days off from running entirely. It went by really fast, to tell you the truth.

Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day and I went out for a 4-miler. It was a harder 4-miler than I would have guessed my body felt up to for the first run back. I did 7:20 per mile.

I am stunned and deeply saddened by the news of the death of Ryan Shay. First, I run marathon where a novice dies in the heat. Now, I hear about the Olympic Trials in which a distance champion collapses and dies. I am feeling my mortality right now. My prayers go out to his wife and his family.

Nevertheless, I have been contemplating my next marathon for May. The baby is due May 5th. I am wondering if I will be able to head to either Madison or Green Bay, both driving distance, on the 18th or the 25th after our little bundle of joy arrives. The wife needs to let me know if it's OK. That's a ways off and there is lots to think about and deal with before then.

I'm in the midst of an entirely different kind of marathon. It is called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. My aim is to write a 50,000 word draft manuscript in the 30 days of November. This is a 1,667 word per day pace. You can get updates on my progress here.

Writing will keep me busy this month. I will try to balance my running to get back up to 30 miles a week this month. I also will head back to London right after Thanksgiving for work. I feel like I am continuing to push the envelope with my goals while finding a way to balance the rest of my life.