Monday, August 31, 2009
Last night I made like a “swoosh” and just did it. I didn’t want to run, but figured I ought to go out and hit the bricks anyway, just to stay in the habit.
I only ran a mile, but I hated every step of it.
My legs felt like concrete pillars. My breathing was labored. I felt like I was running in sand, against a headwind, uphill, while pulling a loaded water cart. And then it got worse.
9 ½ minutes later, I’m home and stretching out my legs and the real agony ensued. You know that feeling when you have smash your finger and you have a blood blister under your finger nail and the pressure against your nail is just throbbing and it feels like an anvil is resting ever so gently upon your hand? Yea, that’s about what it felt like down in my shins. I’m not unfamiliar with the pain, but I’m not fond of it, either.
I broke down, took some drugs and laid under a couple of ice packs. Screw the whole “let it heal” crap. This hurt—a lot! I wanted that pain to go far, far away, so I treated the symptom—take away the inflammation, take away the pain, get up and run some more. Tonight I’ll try and pack in another 4 miles of hard running, maybe more, and then shut it down for a couple of days. Tomorrow is not only an early morning, but also an 8th anniversary for a very sweet woman I know. Wednesday is class night. Therefore, the schedule is going to be dictated by external events and I’ll be allowed to get in some good, deep stretching. Just in case the pain isn’t quite gone, though, I’ll be bringing my cell phone to call for a ride home. Just in case, you know.
I think I’m going to set the September goal at 100 total miles (52 miles for the month), and leave the cycling goal at 100 total miles (60-ish miles for the month), too. I totally missed the cycling mark this month, but it looks like I’ll hit the running goal—if the pegs stay on message, that is. In fact, the initial sketch of a schedule for September suggests I may come close to 90 miles for the month. That’ll be a feat!!
October will feature at least one 10 miler and a half marathon distance (maybe even an actual half marathon), so that will be 2 of my weekend long runs. There will be at least one more 10 or 13 miler thrown in there, so October will be at least 33 miles in long runs alone, probably twice or thrice that for the total month, marking the most miles I’ve run in a month, ever. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say it’ll likely be more miles than I ran in all of 2004 and close to as many miles I ran in 2005—all in a single month.
I’m still waiting for that breakthrough where I can just get up and go run, without the need to talk myself into getting up and going for a run. Right now going for a run is like a shuttle launch—the slightest anomaly will cause me to halt the countdown and possibly scrub the launch. I’d like for it to be more like going for a drive where “all systems are go” simply means the key is in the ignition, and that may not even be true. I was almost there a couple weeks back, but not anymore.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Ok, since I’m doing sprints, I decided to finally drop some coin on a new watch.
While I was getting the watch, I decided to check out the bags. Underarmor was the only company that had bags with a separate compartment for shoes and that was precisely what I was looking for in a duffle. So, I picked me up a new bag and can now stop using my overnight luggage duffle for my running gear.
Finally, I trotted by the shoe section and saw Nike’s running sandal. It looks really, really nice. And for only $20, it was a helluva good deal. But, I already bought some shoes and don’t need those—maybe in a couple of months I’ll pick up a pair, but not now. Across from the shoes were the shirts, so I grabbed me a new shirt that will hopefully keep the sweat off my back, and headed to the checkout.
New bag, new watch, new shirt… ready to run tonight. I can’t wait. I’m legitimately looking forward to a good workout tonight.
Ok, yesterday I had a SCHEDULED rest day, so I wasn’t just sitting on my ass. This week was planned to be a light week after my 20 mile week last week. There is no set schedule per se, but the expectation is somewhere in the 5 to 10 mile range with distances building toward Saturday and Sunday. Most of the week will be short 1 or 2 mile runs with speed torture. In fact, tonight will feature just such a torturous path if I am pain free.
Yes, I said it was a light week. There’s a reason for that.
Next week I intend to up the mileage again to 30 miles, with no fewer than 3 intermediate runs of no less than 6 miles and maybe even an 8 or 10 mile ramble thrown in there just for fun.
Which brings me to the reason WHY I planned for this week to be a light week (my training weeks are Monday – Sunday, by the way, it works better for me that way since the Marathon is on a Sunday).
I scheduled a 20 mile week last week for 2 reasons, with a third reason deep in the background. The first two were simple—get the miles in, and see if I could stick to a training schedule. I mostly stuck to the schedule, with some bonus miles to make up for the runs that were missed for one reason or another, and got my miles in. I’m pretty satisfied with those wins.
The third reason was to create the conditions under which the inevitable would happen. Something of my “Judas” theory.
You all know Judas—he was the apostolic betrayer. Some of the Gnostic traditions suggest that he wasn’t actually betraying Jesus, but actually attempting to bring about the conditions under which the spirit Jesus would be freed from the mortal form and thus perfected, ushering in the Kingdom (total Cliff’s notes version, but that’s the gist).
My experience tells me that when I go from zero to marathon training, I encounter the blistering, debilitating pain known as shin splints right around the neighborhood of 30 to 50 miles.
Looking back at 2004, there’s this post: http://screamingatthewind.blogspot.com/2004/11/pain-aaarrrggghhhh.html
In it I discuss a “funny twinge in my left shin” that became an “ow kind of pain”. That was about 20 or 30 miles into training after riding a MS150 a few weeks before.
In 2005, there’s the following 2 posts: http://screamingatthewind.blogspot.com/2005/09/hmm-thats-odd.html
These describe pain in my lower legs, not directly in front, but in the area right between the calf muscle and the shin—the 12-3 area on the left leg and 9-12 area on the right (as well as some pretty good excuses I’ve used for not running). This pain was in the 30 or 40 mile zone.
With both of these incidents, stretching, resting, waiting, and finally running made the pain go away and never come back for the remainder of the season.
My 20 mile week was intended to get me into this zone and create the conditions under which the inevitable pain in my shins would come, get healed away, and go away forever. Or at least until the next time I decide to go from zero to marathon.
So, then, the question becomes what’s better: treat the pain and get back out there as soon as possible, or heal the injury and take as much time as you need so that the pain simply goes away.
I, obviously, fall into the “heal the injury” camp. I want to be able to just roll out of bed and run. Not roll out of bed, munch some drugs, slather on some cream, and then run. I also want to be able to take in a run, then come home and either nap or get on with my day, not have to take an ice bath, or hot bath, or icy-hot bath, or look like a mummy walking into the office. If I can’t just grip it and rip it, so to speak, what’s the point?
Of course, I can be talked out of that mindset, I suppose, if I could find one person who lived with persistent pain and merely treated that pain and was able to never utter the phrase “I quit because the pain got too bad”. Why would you put yourself through such punishment and torture?
So, today I feel pretty much pain free. I’ll go out and run tonight and work in some sprints to the run. Maybe I’ll even go to one of the local schools and use their track for quarter mile sprints. That’s something the Spanish Inquisition should know about!! I should probably get a watch if I’m going to do sprints. Hm…
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
First, the recap, now that I’m fully recovered from my semi-exhausted, thoroughly sweat drenched, and slightly dehydrated state from last night.
Yesterday I set out for a 3.5 mile run. I decided at the turnaround point to take it an extra couple of miles (I had already gone nearly 4 miles, so 5 or so shouldn’t be too bad) and run to the next mile marker on the White Oak Bayou trail. Besides, it was still light out and an extra mile or so wouldn’t do me too bad.
I missed the mile marker. A fat family was standing right on top of it, and I just kept running to the 6 mile turnaround point—the railroad tracks just north of 34th.
Sooo… I went the full 3 miles to the turn around without a pause. I caught my breath on the tracks, then started chugging it back home. About ½ mile in, I saw the mile marker. Right about this time I noticed it was starting to get dark, and I only had another 2 ¾ miles to chug. I don’t like running certain parts of my routes in the dark, but I figure that even in my slightly tired state there’s enough testosterone coursing through my veins to allow me to good and flip out on someone if I had to. At the very least, I just keep running and if they want to steal my shoes (about the only thing of value I run with), they’d have to keep up with me or knock me down. Regardless, I motored on home, pausing only 1 time along the trail where there wasn’t a red light or cross street with traffic, and made it home with a time somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 hour. I still don’t have a watch (and may not get one), so I’m not sure.
However, in the course of 7 days, I’ve gone from 2 miles to 6 miles. I’m ready for my PR at the RTW tomorrow. Can’t wait.
Ok, now for this “Persistence Hunting” thing.
I’m almost done with my runner’s porn “Born to Run”. The underlying thesis of the thing is that man is a highly evolved creature. A creature highly evolved for long distance, endurance running. We are so well evolved for it, in fact, that man can outrun a horse over 50 miles. We are so well evolved for distance running that a human man can run down an antelope until it keels over from exhaustion and dies.
I’d SO totally love to see that. A pack of marathon runners, in the middle of a sunny summer afternoon, zeroing in on an antelope in the high savannah, and then BAM!! Taking off after it as it darts away. 10 or 15 k later, the thing is keeled over dead as a doorknob. That would be BEAUTIFUL!!
So, I googled “marathon hunting” and found “persistence hunting” and found a handful of videos. Totally righteous. We are not only born to run, we are highly evolved creatures that are designed specifically to run, and run for long distances. That’s why Neanderthals died out, and we won.
I am man. I can outrun an antelope.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I’ve decided to take a more adventurous tone with my running.
In the past, and currently, I’ve been so obsessed with time and distance and trained by my cycling mind that I’ve taken a single route, mapped the route, and followed that route religiously. Here and back, here and back, here and back. Each repetition provided an opportunity to compare stats and see how I’ve improved.
That works real well on a bike, since there are relatively few areas where you can really stretch out in the saddle and drop the hammer without having to contend heavily with automobiles.
Running, on the other hand, can be done just about anywhere there’s a sidewalk. And in some cases, where there’s just flat ground (like the easement alongside railroad tracks, or the concrete channel skirts of bayous).
Plus, with tools like Google Earth on our side, we can map out just about any area, route, distance, or path that we choose to take.
So, I can now do on foot what I could never do in the saddle, and that is to just pause at an intersection and decide, right there on the spot, whether or not to go straight, left, or right.
Tuesday evening, when I added a half mile to my run, I did just that. I came to the end of my route and instead of turning back I decided to turn left. Why not? It turned out to be a pretty good run.
This is, so I’ve been told, what ultra-runners do. They just wake up and run. Where? Forward. Until they decide it’s time to turn around, then they turn around.
I’m wondering how long I’m going to be able to do that until I get lost.
I stuck to the schedule this morning, but to no avail.
The alarm went off at 5:00am, I was already awake at 4:45 but wanted to wait and make sure the alarm worked (yea, right). I dutifully hit the button at 5, and got up promptly at 5:09am. Slipped on the shorts, socks, and shoes, grabbed the hat (that I won at the RTW, thank you very much, Luke’s Locker!), and hit the pavement running. I made it around the block and noticed a curious little gimpiness.
“Hm”, I thought to myself. “Hm, that’s interesting, maybe it’ll go away.”
Nope. I went another block, and it didn’t go away. I stopped and walked home.
It wasn’t pain, per se. But it felt like the precursor to pain. “A softness”, as I described it to my lovely wife, and object of my showing off. A feeling that I’m not at all happy with.
Maybe a good 3.5 miles this morning would have pushed it over the edge from “soft” to “hurt” and gotten it on to the healing path?
Maybe it’s just a tired knee, explaining to me that I’m doing too much too fast?
Maybe if I lay off it for the morning and maybe evening, it’ll get better?
Maybe it was just too damn early for the second time this week?
Not sure. But I opted to scrub the run and try and hit it this evening, just to see how things go. This means, of course, that I’m now .5 miles + 3.5 miles behind my weekly goal of 20 miles, which may or may not be made up elsewhere in the week. I think I’ll end up with a 16 mile week, unless I sneak in a run on Friday morning (unlikely) or Saturday evening (very likely). I suppose Sunday is always an option.
The 5k in the Woodlands this weekend is still on the calendar. I’m going to set a PR this weekend. I feel it. I demand it. I need that win, real bad.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I realized this morning over my eggs and toast that I have designed for myself and entered into a crucible of sorts, and didn’t realize it until I was nearly halfway through this morning’s run (2.66 miles of the 3.64 planned distance).
I’ve scheduled my hardest week of the season thus far—20 miles, chump change to you seasoned vets—for this week partly to if I can actually stick to the schedule for a change. Another part for the schedule is to simply see what will happen on the other side.
I know that discipline imposed upon an undisciplined form will create a new form. Imagine a Jell-O mold or military boot camp. I also know that discipline for the sake of discipline is meaningless. What I’m curious to see is whether or not on the other side of this mini-crucible I’ve set up for myself something is forged out of the formless mass that is entering. Will there be a breakthrough moment? Will this prisoner come to love his captive? Will I bound out of bed at 5:00am and bounce off for a run? Is anyone sick enough to do that?
I doubt 20 miles is enough to forge a love for running, but I beginning to understand that in order to reconnect with my primal roots, I’m going to need to more than just go through the motions. “I don’t wanna” trumps going through the motions, every time.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I put out my shoes, shorts, shirt, socks, and hat to run this morning.
The alarm went off, as planned, at the appointed hour.
I decided to “sleep in” and grab an extra 30 minutes sleep rather than 30 minutes running.
I think, if I am to run in the morning, I have to set the alarm yet an hour earlier (and go to bed yet an hour earlier) in order to pull off the 30 minutes or so I’d like to start running during the week. Thanks to the victory of the 3.5mile 5k I ran on Thursday, I feel that the weekday short runs must be no less than 3 miles now, unless there’s a good reason to do something different. I vaguely remember my short runs being in the 6 mile range in 2006, but I also remember weekday runs being at Memorial Park, which means they were likely to be only 3 miles as I rarely ran the circle two times. Maybe I should actually look back at that old running journal and see?
Regardless, I feel stronger than ever and am actually itching to get out on the road and RUN!! It’s an odd thing, an odd thing indeed. I may be starting to like this foolishness.
I made an interesting observation while in the saddle on Saturday. The bike was much, much harder than the run 2 days earlier. I wonder if it’s because the only master I have on the trail is the distance, while when in the saddle I have a clock, speedometer and odometer as my masters. Consequently, to chase the statistics, I’m pushing myself and not simply riding. Meanwhile, on the trail I’m just running. And I’m reading these stories (and blogs) of people who just get up and run. They wake up, strap on the shoes, and go out and feel normal.
Maybe I shouldn’t get a watch.
I also read that running combines 2 primal elements of humanity—fear and love. You see something you are afraid of and you turn and run. You see something you love, you turn towards it and run. Also, children run EVERYWHERE. It’s just a part of what they are. Those tiny little unfiltered beasts just … run. As they grow, they begin to filter those two primal emotions and learn to moderate and walk. Maybe that’s the difference between a runner and someone who runs.
Anyhow… it’s off to Memorial Park to run this evening. No less than 3 miles, rain or shine.
And this weekend I’m going to set a PR at the RTW.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Went to the store yesterday and bought two volumes of runner’s porn: I run, therefore I am—Crazy, and Born To Run by Christopher McDougall.
The first one is a stupid little book full of what seems like running themed newspaper commentary/articles where the guy basically bitches about what he loves about running.
Not at all inspiring.
The problem is that all the little quirks that he loves about running are the things that really bug me about running—the aches, pains, dehydration, delirium, and on and on. I’m not running because I WANT all that stuff, I’m running so that all that stuff doesn’t happen anymore when I run. I know, it’s something of a catch-22, because if I just didn’t run I wouldn’t have dead legs and shin splints. But, then again, if I do run and can condition myself beyond that, I’m all the stronger for it.
I read the first 20 pages, flipped through the rest of the book, now I’m done.
The other book, though, is a fascinating story about the Terahumara tribe in Mexico’s Copper Canyon region. I’m maybe 25 pages in and want to go running tonight.
Yes, I’m actually horny for running, so to speak. The runner’s porn has done its job.
The thing is, I want to want to run. I don’t like forcing myself to do things, even though I know it’s good for me and I can’t do X unless I first do A – V, whether I want to or not.
Today, however, I find myself actually looking forward to my new shoes I’m going to go shopping for in a week. I’m looking forward to picking up a few more shirts, and another couple pairs of shorts.
This go around might actually be different. The switch might actually be flipped.
Time will tell.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
From August 3:
Ok, so I had the burger. And it was good.
But it wasn’t a double (did have cheese, though), it did have lettuce and tomato, no mayo, and no coke.
Yes, I ate the fries.
So, I figure the salad balances out the yummy, juicy, delicious meaty cheezey burger.
And the tea offset the fries and foregone coke.
Take that, Captain Killjoy!
Of course, I’m still going to have to put in 5 miles or so to balance the whole deal, but I was hoping to work up to 5 miles by next week anyway. I’m actually looking a little bit forward to the 6 mile route I used to run. It’s a lot longer on a map than it feels in my head, and it’s even longer while running it than it looks on a map. But, as far as runs go, it’s a good run.
From July 17:
I have paid the fee and am registered, officially, for the Houston Marathon in 2010.
I’ll probably even run it.
When I close my eyes I can still see the 2005 and 2006 iterations of the marathon. The one with crushing defeat, the other with waves of exhilaration. I was underprepared in 2005 and I knew it, but was hoping that guts would take over where preparation gave out. They did not, and brains stepped in for the guts and I had to shut it down. I can go out to the very point on the pavement where I knew it was over, too. And then there’s the spot a little further down where I actually threw in the towel. I can still feel the failure if I stop and ponder it for even just a moment. There’s a pain associated with it that’s not just physical, but something deeper and more profound. There’s even an acrid, acidic smell that comes to mind, too. Something like baking pavement, car exhaust, sweat, and demoralization.
DNFs are not the end of the world. They happen. I’ve pulled out of a couple of MS150s without the same sense of failure. But this was different. This was not “a” marathon. For me this was “the” marathon. I’m probably never going to qualify for Boston or travel the country running marathon after marathon. Houston IS my crowning marathon achievement. My Tour de France. My Everest. Quitting in 2005 was an admission of defeat. That hurt. It made me angry.
But that tight ball of hurt and anger became fuel that would start a fire burning in July that kept growing through December.
Those very same spots, the very next year, came to carry a new and different meaning. The first where I knew I was done in 2005 became the spot in 2006 where I knew I was strong enough to finish the thing. The spot where I had to quit and admit defeat became the spot where I spat on the ground because this time the course wasn’t going to win.
A new spot was added to the list, as well, and it exists both physically and mentally. This was the spot on the course where, based on the pace I was keeping and the distance remaining, I knew I was going to finish in about 5:30, right on schedule. That barring any injury or freak accident, I really, truly was going to finish. The goal was reached. I was going to win.
Tonight I’ll take in a short run. I’ve spent the last two days pouring and stuffing poison into my body, so I’m going to have to crank up the engine to burn some of it off. I’m going to pay for the poor choice of fuel, but what the hell. Pizza tastes good. Beer tastes good. Saturday or Sunday will feature a longer run (3 miles?) and another shortish ride (10 or 15 miles, maybe). I’m going to have to plan a trip back out to the Woodlands to scrub the embarrassment of the last RTW out of my hair, too. I know, I can go to Memorial and run a 5k there, but none of those runners know I’m chasing them down to pass them and nobody has a stopwatch or free goodies to give away, either.