Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recreational Runner? / Recovery week 10/20-10-26

I really hate recovery weeks. I just want to run the way I want and not have to worry about going easy for recovery's sake. But recovery is a fact of life in distance running, and so I chose to go a little easy this week to give my hamstring some time to heal.

Jimmy Carter, recreational are, according to Glenn A., Mike Wardian, Yiannis Kouros, Scott Jurek and others since, like the former prez, they don't run for a living.

Post-Columbus Marathon rest and recovery

AM: 6 miles at 8:06 pace
I felt surprisingly good—fairly sore in the legs, but still strong. My hamstring was super tight.

AM: 6.5 miles at 7:49 pace
I was much less sore than the previous day, but was still nursing a hamstring that felt tight as a drum.

AM: 7 miles at 7:35 pace
Getting stronger and feeling better, but not in the hamstring…

AM: 7.6 miles at 7:27 pace
Feeling recharged and geared up for a weekend of running, but still struggling with the hamstring.

AM: 12 miles in Cuyahoga Valley National Park with the Southeast Running Club
This was my first time in Peninsula in a few months and man was it just what the doctor ordered. When I’m reeling from a stressful week (the stress mainly stemmed from the insurance company’s denial of Noah’s helmet, which means we’re going to have to fork over $5,000 out-of-pocket), a trail run through Cuyahoga Valley National Park is just what I need. About 9 miles into the run, which was going very well, I hit a root and went down like a sack of potatoes—no chance to brace myself for the fall. Mark G., who was running behind me, then tripped on me and went down, accidentally stepping on my leg. Everyone laughed, including me. Undeterred, Mark and I got up immediately and resumed running. I was a little scraped up, especially around my ankle, but I felt OK. Well, needless to say, the full effects of the fall didn’t arrive until the next morning…. My hip was badly bruised, my calf moderately strained and my ankle scraped up like someone took sandpaper to it. I guess that’s what happens when you’re getting old and take a fall.

AM: 15 miles in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
I told Jeff U. during the run that it was scary how good I felt (sans hamstring) only a week removed from the Columbus Marathon. Usually the following Sunday I’m feeling like a bag of garbage, but not today. I averaged about 7:35 pace, getting in 2 miles beforehand, then completing the 12-mile loop with an extra one mile to make it 15 for the day.

Afterwards, we had breakfast in the bagel shop, where the trash talk went to new levels. I took some ribbing for my 2:59 at the Columbus Marathon. Apparently, I’m a sub-2:50 guy because I have "lots of talent." I don’t know if any of that’s true, but I do know I can get faster. Paul R., a former 4:18 miler, also took some ribbing as he gears up for a strong Richmond Marathon, where he looks to break the 3-hour barrier for the first time on what some guys say is a "short course." Nonsense! If Richmond were short, it wouldn't be a Boston qualifier.

Anyway, most of the bagel shop ribbing came from Mr. 24-hour American record holder Mark G., who said—and I quote—“breaking 3 hours in a marathon is a joke.” Really? According to a report of, 1.7 percent of all marathon finishes in 2007 were under 3 hours. That means 98.3 percent of marathon finishes were above 3 hours. And breaking 3 is a joke? Try telling that to the hundreds of thousands of folks who came in above 3 hours. And while we’re at it, qualifying for Boston is a great accomplishment. About 15 percent of marathon finishes are BQs. I've known runners who've tried to qualify for Boston for years and they continue to fall short. For most, Boston is the crowning achievement for a marathoner. In SERC, Boston is expected and to not qualify is to underachieve.

But Sunday breakfast brought even more controversy. For his part, Glenn (a former 2:30something marathoner) claimed that anyone who doesn’t run professionally is a “recreational runner.” Needless to say, a few guys took issue with Glenn’s claim. It occurs to me that under Glenn’s definition the following individuals are recreational runners:
  • Yiannis Kouros, holder of just about every ultrarunning record, including 24 and 48 hours

  • Scott Jurek, 7-time winner of the Western States 100, 3-time winner of Spartathlon, and winner of the Hardrock 100 (record), Badwater 135 (record) and a host of other races

  • Michael Wardian, 50K, 50-mile and 100K national champion in 2008

  • Karl Meltzer, winner of a record six 100-mile races in 2006

I guess Kyle Skaggs, Valmir Nunes, Hal Koerner, Anton Krupicka and others are "recreational runners," as well, since they don't do it professionally.

Total miles for week: 54.1
Total miles for month: 229.3
Total miles for year: 3,264.58

I have 9 1/2 weeks to get to my goal of 4,000 miles for the year. That comes out to about 77 miles per week--very doable as long as I stay motivated and my hamstring improves. But why run 77 miles per week at a time of year when I may want to reduce mileage and recover for a strong 2009? We'll see how the 77 miles/week plays out. I may get to 4,000; I may not.

My goal for this week is to complete my recovery from Columbus, and then get back on the track to prepare for the Fall Classic Half Marathon. I’m going to use the Fall Classic as a measure of what my time at Columbus should have been. I ran a 1:22 at the Spring Classic last April and will be looking to best that time at the Fall Classic.

Onward and upward!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

P*ssed about Columbus

Sorry for the vulgar term in the title, but it's just how I feel. Even four days after the marathon, I can't shake my disappointment with my Columbus Marathon time. A 2:59? With my training and experience, I should have smacked down at least a 2:55 and probably even a 2:53. Forget about the right hamstring problem (which persists). A 2:55 should have been the result. I was training like an animal. A 17:45 5K on Labor Day. Killer track workouts. Tempo runs that would make many a runner puke.

And yet I wound up with a 2:59.

Above: Yours truly at the Columbus Marathon, en route to an underachieving time of 2:59.

A small part of me says, "Yeah baby, we broke 3 even on a right hamstring that blew up only a few weeks before!"

And yet a much louder voice in me screams, "You bag of sh*t! That 2:59 should have been a 2:55!"

I want redemption. I've even found myself pondering running the Inland Trail Marathon in Elyria, Ohio on Nov. 2 to go after my 2:55 goal. But then my better senses take hold and I tell myself that it wouldn't be a good idea to race two marathons in a period of two weeks unless my name is Mike Wardian.

I don't even think a fast Fall Classic Half Marathon will quell my disappointment.

So I need to put Columbus behind me and focus on today and what's ahead. In November, December and January, I'll be base-building. Then in February I "relaunch" and get back to 100-mile weeks in preparation for a 2:55 Cleveland Marathon and sub-19-hour Mohican 100, unless I choose to run the Burning River 100 instead. I don't think I can wait until August to run a 100 so I may have to jump on Mohican again. I'm very ready for another 100. If there was one in the area next week, I'd do it.

Which brings me to my 2009 race schedule. Since it's really hard to travel with a full-time working wife and baby, my 2009 schedule will largely resemble what I've done this year with a few notable exceptions. I may run the Lt. JC Stone 50K in Pittsburgh on March 21, unless I'm able to talk Anne into letting me run in the Mad City 100K national championship in Wisconsin in April (which would then cause me to start hardcore ultra training earlier and run the BR100 instead of Mohican for recovery's sake). Then on May 3 I may return to the Steel City for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon as preparation for a 2:55 or better at the Cleveland Marathon. Why Pitt? We have family there. If we get a 24-hour event in Northeast Ohio in 2009, I'll probably add that, too.

So it's probably a good thing that I'm thinking about a great 2009. I guess when you run a disappointing race like I did at Columbus, you just have to move on. So I'll move on.


One final note. A few weeks ago I bought some Asics Gel Kayano 12's. Since they're an older model, I got them for $99 online. I wasn't sure what to expect, other than I was kind of hoping they'd feel like all my other shoes (which are $90-$100) so I wouldn't get hooked on $135 shoes. But the fact of the matter is that my new Kayanos are off-the-charts awesome. They feel custom-made for my feet. They're ultra stable, yet flexible. They have the perfect amount of cushion. They're amazing. The only downside is that they're a bit heavy, but that's OK in a training shoes.

I told Anne that I hoped the Kayanos wouldn't feel like $135 shoes. I told her I hoped they'd feel like all my other $90-$100 shoes. But the Kayanos are definitely superior in every category (except weight). And now I'm hooked on Kayanos. God help us

Monday, October 20, 2008

2:59 at the Columbus Marathon

All things considered, the Columbus Marathon could have gone much worse for me. I ran a 2:59--my second consecutive sub-3-hour marathon (my first was a 2:58 at Cleveland)--and managed to hang on despite right hamstring problems. But before I go any further in my race report, I want to congratulate the following SERC members/friends, who finished the marathon in fine fashion:

Yours truly with my son Noah, who along with Anne is my greatest source of inspiration. That medal is all his!

Jim Chaney: 2:55
Steve Godale: 2:55
Jeff Ubersax: 2:56 (PR, grand masters winner)
Joe Vishey: 3:05 (PR)
Jeff Tanchon: 3:12
Dave Morl: 3:12
Adam Shane: 3:20
Richard Oliver: 3:28
Dawn Malone: 3:33
Ted Friedman: 3:53
Gerri Kornblut: 4:15:54
Christina Seman: 4:29:02


I drove down to Columbus with Jeff U. and Steve G. We talked running the whole way and ate lunch at a pretty good place called Noodles. It’s off the (nauseatingly overdeveloped) Polaris Parkway exit on the northern outskirts of Columbus. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency with my father-in-law, Doug, who was there to walk the marathon for the seventh time (which he did in 6:15!). After I watched my beloved Clemson Tigers lose to Georgia Tech on ESPN, we went to the expo a few hours after our arrival. The expo was a train wreck—awful “traffic” flow and narrow walkways made it a pain in the ass to navigate. You had to go past all of the vendors before picking up your number, chip, shirt, etc.

This year the official marathon shirts were gray Nike Dry Fit—the kind that looks like cotton but really isn’t. In years past, the marathon has provided really nice Asics long-sleeve technical tee-shirts that you can actually wear on a long run. I have always worn my race shirts on runs. If you wanted an official marathon long-sleeve tech tee, you had to fork over $50. No thanks. Though I was disappointed about the shirt, I didn’t get bent out of shape. As for the expo, it’s always been a weakness of the Columbus Marathon and you just have to take the good with the bad.

That night we went to Martini’s for dinner. There were about 10 of us and the dinner was organized by Jeff T. Even as it took an hour and forty minutes to get our dinner, we had a great time, exchanging stories over some good pre-race carbs. Most of us were back in our hotel rooms by 8:30. I was asleep by 9:30.


Now, for the marathon…. As with all Columbus marathons, it was well-organized and the course was excellent, with lots of crowd support. I think the field included 11,000 marathon, half-marathon and 5K runners and walkers. This year the course changed quite a bit, but the changes made it even better. The new course was more scenic and had fewer hills.

The marathon organizers also get props for the prerace hype. Just seconds before the gun went off as we were crowding the starting line, they played the greatest song ever recorded by AC/DC--"Thundestruck"--which is also one of the greatest rock 'n roll songs of all time. No song gets me more fired up than "Thunderstruck," with the possible exception of another great AC/DC song, "Shoot to Thrill" (AC/DC happens to be one of my favorite bands. They're often described as a medal band, which couldn't be further from the truth. They are a pure rock 'n roll band. Furthermore, I think the band got better with the addition of Brian Johnson, though Bon Scott was great, too. Enough with my rant....).

Another change was starting the runners and walkers at 7 a.m. In previous years, the walkers started an hour earlier and would move to the side of the street when the runners passed them. I prefer the old starting times because then there's still some decent crowd support for the walkers at the finish (a 6-hour walker is going to come in at the same time as a 5-hour runner). When my father-in-law finished at 1:45 p.m., the finish area was mostly empty except for other walkers coming in--pretty lonely, I would imagine. Unlike many marathon runners, I don't have a problem with walkers because someone I'm close to (my father-in-law) is a marathon walker and I know how much the experience means to him. Anyone who completes a marathon, whether by running, walking or wheelchair, deserves crowd support in the end.


Going into the marathon, I was aiming for a 2:55. Unfortunately, my hamstring dashed those hopes. Having done some pre-race striders, I went out of the gate warmed-up even as the temperature was about 35 degrees. I was dressed perfectly. I wore Race Ready shorts packed with 6 gels, two Advil and 10 e-caps (all of which I took except for one Advil and one gel); a tight, long-sleeve base layer shirt; my SERC singlet; gloves; a Mountain Hardwear "beenie"; and my racing shoes.

My 10K split was 41:56 (6:44 pace)--right on target. The first sign of my hamstring problem came at mile 7 when I felt some moderate pain. With 19 miles to go, I thought I was in serious trouble and experienced a certain amount of despair and near panic as I wanted so badly to do well. But then by mile 10 the discomfort had subsided and I was in full stride with Jeff. Both of us looking strong, we crossed the halfway mark at 1:28:54 (6:46 pace). For Jeff, a.k.a., Mr. Negative Split, this was on target. For me, this was about a minute too slow.

At mile 17, my hamstring again started to act up. I had to make a decision: Should I continue to press hard and risk a serious leg injury (i.e., a torn hamstring) and DNF going for a 2:55, pull back just a little and go for a sub-3 with moderate risk of further-injuring my leg, or just go for a Boston-qualifying time of 3:10? I chose to dial it back just a little and go for a sub-3 time.

So I slowed just a little to 6:50 pace as Jeff continued his assault on a PR and grand masters title. By mile 18, he was more than 100 feet in front of me and there was no way I could catch him. I was still at about 6:50 pace and would hold that pace give or take a few seconds for basically the rest of the race as Jeff slowly but surely disappeared.

By this time I was noticing something kind of odd. My GPS splits were not lining up with the mile markers. More on that later….

I hit the 20-mile mark in 2:16:06 (6:48 pace), leaving a little less than 44 minutes to complete the last 10K. This meant I had no margin for error. Overall, I was pretty strong during the last 10K. My leg hurt a little, but I hung in there and kept up with my 2:59 pace. Like any marathoner, I experienced a few dark moments but they were fleeting. My experience with two 100 milers has helped me to deal with pain and discomfort late in races. The biggest challenge I faced was dealing with the fact that there was no margin for error. I had to stay on pace and ignore the fact that I had to pee badly, or else I wouldn’t break 3.

I ran the remaining 6.2 miles at 6:55 pace, crossing the finish line in 2:59:05 in decent but not great shape. Running down the stretch, I tried for 2:58:59 but unfortunately missed it. At age 53, Jeff won the grand masters division (and he won it at the 2008 Cleveland Marathon, too). Amazing.


I trained hard for Columbus and wish I’d done better. But I broke 3 and am proud of it. In the grand scheme of things, few runners ever qualify for Boston (this I know) and even fewer break 3 hours. The craziness of the past few weeks, which wreaked havoc on my training, may have taken a toll on my conditioning, but the bottom line is that I should have run a 2:55 and I didn’t. My hamstring went south on me, I dealt with it and fortunately I clocked a decent time. No excuses. My time is what it is—an underachieving time and yet my second-fastest-ever marathon.

Interestingly, my GPS measured the course at 26.46 miles. Jeff’s GPS had the course at 26.42 miles and another runner’s GPS had it at 26.45 miles. We’re all experienced marathoners who understand tangents and hit them for the most part. Our GPS results lead me to think the course was, in fact, long by .2 miles. Which means each of us would have finished about a minute faster. But in the end, everyone ran the same course and the standings would have been the same for the most part, so the extra distance really doesn’t amount to much.

My next race will likely be the Nov. 23 Fall Classic Half Marathon, where I may go for a time of sub-1:20. I ran a 1:22 on that same course in the spring, so a sub-1:20 is possible with continued focus.

Onward and upward!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Since when did 54 miles in a week constitute tapering? / Taper week 10/6-10/13

Today is my dad's birthday. Happy birthday, Dad!


A big congratulations to Steve Hawthorne, who finally qualified for the Boston Marathon, running a 3:08 at the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pa. on Sunday, Oct. 12. Steve came within a heartbreaking 20 seconds of Boston at this year’s and last year’s Cleveland Marathon. The Boston monkey has been on “Steamtown” Steve’s back for a few years and now it’s finally off. He has already registered for Beantown.

(Will I register for Boston? The answer to that question is yet to be determined and relies largely on whether or not I can find a hotel room in the city. Currently, most hotels are sold out.)

Another congrats to Frank D. for setting a PR at the Chicago Marathon. Frank, who is 52 years old, ran a 3:07. Way to go, Frank!

A final congrats to Amie S. (a.ka. solarsquirrel) for also BQ’ing for the first time. Nice job, Amie!


As far as my training week, since when did 54 miles in a week constitute tapering? Fifty-four miles in a week used to be status-quo for me. Now it’s tapering. Funny how things change….

I had a decent week and saw some great progress with my right hamstring. Last week I thought a sub-3 at Columbus was in serious jeopardy with my blown-up hamstring. Now I’m feeling the injury is behind me and I’m ready. Here’s how the week went:


AM: 8 miles easy
This was not a good run. With the temperature in the low 40s, my right hamstring was tight and moderately painful. As I ran up Washington Street only 2 miles from home, I was thinking, “this is not good, this is not good, this is not good…,” as my hamstring ached. Arnica, ice and ibuprofen were in order.

AM: 8.4 miles easy
With the temperature now in the low 50s, my hamstring felt much better – looser and less painful. I felt much more encouraged than I did the previous day. I decided to stay off the track for the timing being.

AM: 8.2 miles easy
The temperature was again in the low 50s, allowing my hamstring (and body) to warm-up more quickly. I decided to test my leg with a few sub-7:00-minute-per-mile surges and my leg felt very good.

AM: 9-mile track workout at Chagrin Falls High School
The night before, I read over my pre-Cleveland Marathon workouts and noticed that on this week—two weeks before the event—I was running 5:34 mile repeats. I hadn’t run that fast going into Columbus this year and so I decided (perhaps stupidly) to head to the track and give it a go provided my hamstring was in good working order. Running to the track, I felt strong, loose and excited about going hard. After a few warm-up laps, I eased into a progressively hard pace, running 4x1600 at 5:57, 5:43, 5:33 and, as an “up-tempo cool-down,” 5:55. The 5:33 was my fastest-ever mile repeat time (but just by one second). I felt strong and in control during every lap and ran home minimally tired. I am glad I was able to get one last hard effort in before Columbus.
PM: 6 miles on the treadmill
Total miles for day: 15

PM: 6.1 miles in Wheeling, WV
With the temperature in the mid-80s, I took it easy.

AM: 8 miles in Wheeling, WV
I felt trashed and out of it, maybe from insufficient sleep the last few nights (Noah was pretty rascally on Friday night and often lack of sleep doesn’t catch up with me until a few days after the fact). I also felt some slight pain on the top of my left foot that I’m not going to worry about (just yet).

Total miles for week: 53.7
Total miles for month: 121.2
Total miles for year: 3156.58


I’m driving to Columbus on Saturday with Jeff U., who’s going for a sub-3 and, like me, finally broke that elusive barrier at Cleveland in the spring (he ran a 2:57; I ran a 2:58). It seems that whenever Jeff and I drive to a race together we always set PRs. So, not wanting to break the PR streak, we’re going to Columbus together.

As far as Columbus, I respect 26.2 entirely too much to feel overly confident. There are a few things I do know, and they are: 1) I didn’t get in enough 20+ milers; 2) The quality of my training declined the last few weeks due to life circumstances; and 3) I missed a key workout (marathon-pace long run) the last week of training. All of that said, THERE IS NO REASON I SHOULDN’T BREAK 3 HOURS AND, QUITY FRANKLY, BREAK 2:55.

My goals for this week are:

  • 50 miles (including the marathon)
  • 3x1600 at marathon pace (6:40) on Tuesday morning
  • 9 hours of sleep on Thursday and Friday nights
  • Protein-loading from Sunday-Wednesday night
  • Carbo-loading starting Thursday morning
  • And, most important of all, a 2:55 at the COLUMBUS MARATHON!

I’m starting to think about my 2009 race schedule. I’m not sure of exactly which races I’m running, but I do know that my 2009 schedule will consist of a 100 miler, where I’ll be looking for a VERY good finish; a spring and fall marathon, of which at least one will be a PR effort; a 50K and 50 miler, where I’ll be looking for PRs; a 10K, where I’ll go for a PR; and, of course, a half-marathon or two. I’m also very interested in a 24-hour event.

Onward and upward!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A blown-up hamstring / Training week 9/29-10/6

With the Columbus Marathon three weeks out, this week was supposed to be one final hard push toward a 2:55, which would be 3 minutes faster than my PR at the Cleveland Marathon in May. It was to be a confidence-boosting week to cap off an intense 12-week training cycle specifically geared toward running a 2:55 marathon. The week and cycle were to end with a 12-mile marathon-pace run (6:40), which would confirm whether or not I’m ready for 2:55.

Unfortunately, this was not a good training week even as I logged 90.5 miles! A lot went wrong. I felt terrible all week, weathering aches, pains, a low-grade fever and a wicked sore throat from some mysterious bug. I thought I had strep throat but apparently didn’t because my sore throat eventually cleared up. Then I thought I had a cold but never became congested. Not until Sunday did I begin to feel much better, and even now I am not 100 percent.

I also “tweaked” my right hamstring during Wednesday’s track workout—maybe because of my body’s weakened state. At first, I didn’t pay the discomfort in my hamstring much attention. But then when I was barely able to run home after my track workout I knew this might be a big deal. In fact, for a while there I thought Columbus was history. As I write, my hamstring is much better and hopefully by the race will be 100 percent. I’m likely going to avoid any all-out interval efforts between now and then just to play it safe.


I’m proud of my Columbus training. I’ve had quality track and tempo workouts basically every week of my training cycle. When I think about where I was after Mohican (barely able to walk due to a knee injury) v. where I am now, I feel confident in my plan. I am in much better shape for this year’s Columbus than I was for last year’s race. My weekly mileage has been solid over the past 12 weeks. I’ve averaged 83 miles per week and have stuck to my tempo runs and three-week speed-work circle. My lactate threshold and VO2 max are at good levels. I would have liked to get in some 100-mile weeks, but fell short.

This will be my fifth consecutive Columbus Marathon. The Columbus Marathon is very special to me. Every year I look forward to joining my father-in-law at Columbus, where we always go for our own best efforts. This will be his 10th Columbus. He walks the course and usually always comes in around 6 hours. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d ever have taken up marathon running if he himself hadn’t made 26.2 a part of his own life. When I first set my sights on the marathon in the spring of 2004, his good example was a big part of the decision. I just wanted to finish, and I did—in 3:22. A lot has changed since that 2004 race.

The marathon is tough. It hurts badly. The last 4 miles of a marathon separate marathoners into two categories—those who are walking, and those who are still running. The marathon requires not only mental and physical toughness, but also a certain measure of precision. You have to find that sweet spot, where you’re running at a pace that you can maintain for 26.2 miles, but yet have nothing left in the tank when you cross. You want to leave it all on the course—like running out of gas right when you arrive at your destination. It took me 10 marathons to finally find that sweet spot. People who saw me cross at Cleveland say I came down the home stretch looking like I was in agony. I was. That’s how it should be—laying it all on the line. Can I find my sweet spot again at Columbus? We’ll see.


Here’s how the week went:

PM: 7.05 miles at 7:27 pace down MLK with Dave S.
I felt horrible—very achy as in I knew I was coming down with something bad.

AM: 8.5 miles at 7:20 pace on the treadmill
Still feeling awful and barely able to make it out of bed at my normal 4:50 a.m., I didn’t want to run outside in the pitch-black dark with it raining cats and dogs. Instead, I elected to put in the miles indoors, going somewhat easy.
PM: 7 miles at 7:30 pace down MLK with Dave S. and Don L.
Really under the weather, I wasn’t planning to run but Dave and Don practically dragged me out of the office. I managed to hang in there and have a decent run.
Total miles for day: 15.5

AM: 7.5 miles on the treadmill
Wednesdays are interval days, but forget about the track. Just running was hard enough.
PM: 7 miles down MLK and back with Dave S.
Dying…. Isn't running when you're sick what being a runner is all about? Or am I just plain dumb?
Total miles for day: 14.5

AM: 8.75-mile track workout
I woke up feeling a little better and decided to go to the track for my scheduled 2x3200 and 1x1600 workout. I started conservatively, running my first 3200 in 12:02. Then for my second 3200 I dialed it up a little and ran an 11:47. Unfortunately, during the seventh lap of that last 3200, my right hamstring blew up. At first it felt like IT band pain, but then, sure enough, I felt the pain midway up my hamstring. I managed to finish off that last 3200, but barely. I decided to skip the last 1600 and just run home. Unfortunately, the spasms in my hamstring got so bad that I had to take a few walk breaks on the way home. But then the spasms got better and I was able to begin running again.
PM: No running—right hamstring injury

AM: No running—right hamstring injury
PM: 7-mile aborted tempo run down MLK and back
Like an idiot, I decided to test out my hamstring only 30 hours after killing it on the track. So I went out on a tempo run and everything was going well…until the third hard mile, when in the middle of a 6:10 mile my right hamstring blew up again. I immediately turned around and began heading back to the office, just hoping I'd get back within my lunch hour. I had to take a few walk breaks until the spasms subsided. I also felt “heat” in the area. I later iced the injury.

AM: 14.1 miles in South Chagrin Reservation
My hamstring hurt for the first 6 miles and then the pain subsided as the muscled warmed up. This wound up being a solid long trail run. I ran most of the way with Tim C., who afterwards gave me some arnica gel as a treatment. The arnica gel seemed to work and the next day I bought some at Mustard Seed Market (in the homeopathic section) for my own use. Apparently, arnica has been around for many centuries and is a leading homeopathic remedy for muscle injuries and inflammation. Scott Jurek used it on his ankle after he sprained only three days before the 2007 Hardrock 100, which he won with a record-setting time. I’m going to stay on arnica gel until my hamstring is 100 percent.
PM: 7.15 miles at 7:30 pace
Total miles for day: 21.25

AM: 9 miles on the treadmill with Noah
I couldn’t go to Solon for the Sunday club run as I was on kid duty while Anne rode in her final horse show of the year. Though still a little tight, my hamstring felt really good. I ran the last 3 miles at marathon pace (6:40-6:45) and experienced no pain or discomfort, unlike my efforts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
PM: 7 miles easy
My hamstring still felt good.
Total miles for day: 16

Total miles for week: 90.05
Total miles for month: September/385.05 , October/67.5
Total miles for year: 3102.88

This week my tapering begins. With my hamstring problem and weekend plans (Noah will be baptized on Sunday), this may be a more aggressive taper than usual. My goals are:

1) 50 miles for the week
2) 3x1600 at 6:00, 6:20 and 6:45
3) 3-mile tempo run at 6:20
4) Lots of arnica for the hamstring

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chasing after happiness

For the average American, it’s hard to smile right now amid our country’s economic, energy, political, moral and leadership crises, which we’re all feeling in one way or another.

"Sold Out," a 1929 cartoon by Rollin Kirby that depicted the fall-out from the Crash of 1929.

Our 401Ks are tumbling. I can’t bear the thought of how far ours have dropped in recent weeks.

We face the real prospect of a credit freeze that will devastate many (but not all) American families, farmers, entrepreneurs and businesses of all shapes and sizes.

We’re still paying out the nose for gas--and some folks in the southeast can't even find it. (As I write this post, my parents and my brother and sister-in-law, like almost every Atlanta resident, are having a hell of hard time finding a gas station with gas, thanks to the hurricanes.)

No one in Washington has a clue. Sting was right about at least one thing—most politicians just look and act like game-show hosts. President Bush might as well be Richard Dawson. “Survey says!” And our members of Congress are like the audience on “The Price is Right”; they’re thirsty for fame and fortune and, when the call finally comes, they come running down the aisle and make an ass of themselves spinning the wheel and hoping for a shot at the "Showcase Showdown."

Our country isn’t respected in the world. Rodney Dangerfield wasn’t respected, either, but he was at least liked. Some say, “Who cares if the world likes or respects us? We’re right!” My response: “When you’re surrounded by those who want to hurt you, don’t you want friends with you? Who else would have your back?”

Times are tough.

In times likes these, I think one’s family, faith and passion(s) sustain them.

If I were a guy whose daily life consisted mostly of eating, sleeping, working and watching 24-hour cable-news (I am guilty of watching a lot of news--just ask Anne) and the other crap on TV, I think right now I’d feel overwhelmed with angst and might not want to get out of bed in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong. I get stressed and unhappy. I can be a crabby bastard. But then invariably something in my life intervenes on my behalf—Anne, our son Noah, my family, my job and, of course, running and the healthy exhaustion it brings.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning stressed about the day's coming challenges--traffic, deadlines, etc. But then 8 or 9 miles later, I’m feeling ready for anything (including more running) and rocking to AC/DC or Bon Jovi on the drive into work. The next day brings the same.

Right now I’m sick. I’m suffering from a bad case of the aches and a sore throat. And yet I am running because I need to run. I’m at 37 miles for the week and looking for over 90. If I run 90 miles for the week, that’s about 12 hours of living in a stress-free vacuum—12 hours of not hearing the noise around us.

What if everyone had 12 hours a week of stress-free living? Would the world be a happier place?

What if the idiots in Washington experienced 12 hours of insulation from stress every week? Would they still act like spoiled children toying with the future of our country? Or would they have some perspective and get along?

What if the people you see out in the world who look like ticking time bombs—you know, those red-faced souls who exude all the happiness of an ogre—had 12 hours of stress-free time every week? Would they still look like an explosion waiting to happen, or would they look happy and healthy?

Yes, in times like these, when it would appear the nation and world around us are coming apart at the seams, it is a good thing we have running. It is a good thing artists have canvas and paints, cooks have pots and pans, swimmers have pools, nature enthusiasts have parks and wildlife, and so forth.

Happiness--it doesn’t find you. You have to find it. And when it evades you, chase after it and don’t give up.