Monday, January 24, 2011

Race Schedule

I've added the Fargo, Twin Cities, and Chicago marathons to my 2011 Race Schedule.  As it currently sits, I'll be running Fargo with my dad for his first marathon in May and Chicago with my wife for her first marathon in October!  The TC is for my own selfish pleasure.  I've run the course a few times, but I hate that I live here and haven't run the actual race.  Same goes for the Minneapolis Marathon in June, but that falls over the FANS 12/24 Hour Run around Lake Nokomis.

So for now, the 2011 Wish List is as follows:

Dying to Run

I can't stand it.

It's officially been over a week since my last run.  The worst part has been reading about all the miles other people are putting in.  The worst has been Tony Krupicka, who put in 194 miles last week in preparation for Rocky Racoon on February 5, complete with pics of his runs.  He's literally killing me.

And my legs feel great, too.  The knee hasn't hurt at all for daily activities in the past two weeks--the only exception being during my actual runs last weekend.  I've been dreaming about waking up and going on runs.  My mind keeps trying to sneak in thoughts of, "Just a few miles.  Nothing major.  You'll be fine."  I just hope that the full two weeks off is what I need, and that it will actually get me healthy enough to build slowly back up.

I still have that 100-mile race in the back of my mind for April, but I know the reality is more likely that I'll be pacing my brother for the last 50 or so.  If I don't get a 7 or 8 hour run in, without injury, before March 12th or 13th, then pacing is my fate.  But there are many, many worse fates.

If it's baby steps I need to take, I am dying for that first one.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Running Injuries

So, January has not been good for my running.

I went into December with a nagging injury in my left knee that was making it nearly impossible to run.  I could tolerate the pain, just barely, but everyone I ran with could tell that I was favoring one leg and that my stride was way, way off.  I tried to stay off of the leg as much as possible, only testing it when I had to in order to make sure that I could run the Goofy at Disney January 8-9.  The knee actually felt better after that 40-mile weekend than it did before it, and I was excited to take a week off and get back on her on Saturday, but then Saturday came.

The mere 3-mile run outside in the slushy, sandy, salty, snow was painful.  I followed that with 6 miles on a treadmill Sunday morning--again, painful.  I wish I knew how to fix this, but I'm afraid I just need to take a full month off from running, which basically kills any hope of running the Zumbro 100 on April 8-9.  The good news is that I'd still get to pace my brother, who's much more on track, and pain free, than I am at the moment--well, always has been really.  Oh well.

I've gone through quite the roller-coaster ride with running in the past year, trying to figure everything out with my feet, knees, stride, shoes, etc.  Basically, I'm struggling to learn how to run, and with these new knee issues, I'm completely lost again.

I started running in New Balance 1063/1064s as a heel-striker last February.  I ran my first marathon in May and wanted to know why my quads cramped at mile 22.  Heel-striking at 220lbs seemed like a decent-enough answer, so I tried to make the transition to a forefoot strike in one fatal swoop--by running on my toes for a 14-mile run in June.  I made it 7-8 miles before my calves just gave out, and the next week was more painful than the aftershock of my first marathon.  That was a painful way to learn that it was a forefoot strike that I needed to transition to, not just completely running only on my toes. Trust me, you'll only do that once before you learn that the heel actually must hit the ground, just not first.

Anyway, in August I ordered my first pair of Brooks Mach 11 cross country flats. Wow--those things were great!  It was impossible not to forefoot strike in those shoes!  It was also around that point that I really tried to shorten my stride and emphasize the whole notion of running behind you.  Let me tell you, that was great!  Running was easier.  My times were dropping drastically with little to no increase in effort.  I was really packing on miles, my weight was down to under 200lbs, and everything was going great!  UNTIL mile 19 of a 26-mile run in late October I felt a sharp pain under my left forefoot just behind the pinky-toe joint.  I remember laughing, imagining myself at the doctor's office, saying, "Doc, my foot hurts."  "Well, what happened."  "At mile 19 of a 26-mile run in cross-country flats, on pavement, my foot started hurting."  "I think I know what the problem is.  You were on mile 19, of a 26-mile run, in cross-country flats, on pavement."  I had to take it easy in the Brooks Mach 11s for a while.

That was right about the time the New Balance MT101s came out, so I started running in those.  I even took them on a 32.5-mile road-run around Mpls with Andy.  They felt pretty good, too!  But I figured that I better get something made for roads and high mileage, and that's when I got the Saucony Kinvaras.  The Sauconys were interesting at first, but I liked them well-enough to use them on a 35-mile treadmill run in November.  My weight was down in the low 190's, and the 35-mile run went well enough, but the size 14 Kinvaras gave me blisters on the outside of my right foot.  I initially chalked the blisters up to foot-swelling from the distance, and kept using the Kinvaras, but 4 days later my left knee started hurting, and it hasn't really let up since.

December was a bust.  I thought I could just run through the pain at first, even doing a 20-mile treadmill run two-weeks after the 35-mile run, but the pain kept building.  A few 6-10 mile runs here and there to test and see if I could give the Goofy Challenge at Disney a go in January was all I had in me for December.  I ended up running the half at Disney in the Kinvaras, but with more blistering at just 13.1 miles, they're getting retired.  I ran the full at Disney the next day in the Brooks Mach 11s, and my Achilles is responding with a big, painful "thanks" for that.  Plus, now I've got pain in both knees, but I think the right pain is just overuse--I'm fairly sure that it's been shouldering the brunt of the load lately with my new, horribly awkward and very painful stride.

I miss pain-free running.  Badly.  So it's time to shut her down for a few weeks and hope that she'll finally heal.  Bring on the bike and free weights.  Hopefully I can drop some more weight in the process as well and take more stress off my joints/ligaments.  The saddest part is that I have a pair of Nike Free 3.0 V2s from runningwarehouse that will be here tomorrow, and I won't be able to run in them for a while.  Such is life.

Part of me wants to abandon the low heel-toe drop shoes and move back to the NB 1064s for a while when I get back into it.  Another part wants to build up mileage again, slowly, with the minimalist shoes.  The smart thing would probably be to provide a mixture of both with some actual barefoot running thrown into the mix as well.  Whatever it takes, I just want to run again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goofy Reflections

The Disney Marathon is crowded!  Nearly 22,000 runners finished Saturday morning's 2011 Disney Half Marathon, with a lot of the course being narrower than a single lane of traffic.  Sunday's Marathon, with 13,500 finishers, seemed spacious in comparison!  But it is still very neat to run through the Disney theme parks with all of the Disney characters out along the course available for pictures and such.

That's me, on the monorail at 4AM Eastern on Sunday morning, en route to the start. The Eastern part matters when you're a Central Standard guy like me.

The most impressive part of the Disney Marathon event, though, is the number of runners that do both the half and full marathons, what Disney affectionately refer to as "the Goofy Challenge."  Over one third of the full marathon finishers, 4,600 of them, finished both the half and the full marathons on Saturday and Sunday!  Pretty impressive.

I had the pleasure of running on Saturday morning with my beautiful wife, who PR'ed the half by more than 30 minutes!  And on Sunday, my cousin Jim surprised me by sneaking back with the slower guys in Corral C to run with me!  The poor guy had to drag me like an anchor for 26.2 miles.  It wasn't the fastest, strongest, nor prettiest 26.2 I've ever run, but it was pretty special just because I really didn't know if I was going to make it.

I left November thinking that the Goofy wasn't going to be a big deal at all after putting up consistent 40-70 mile weeks and tagging long runs of 32.5 and 35 miles.  But then December kicked my ass.  My left patella started giving me fits, not tracking correctly--not letting me run at all without severe pain and swelling.  But, I got the green light from the ortho the Wed before the marathon when she told me that I probably wouldn't do any permanent damage running on it over the weekend, just prolong the recovery.  The best part was that, both days, the pain dulled after the first hour or so.  I'm thinking the body finally said, "well, he's not listening to us telling him to stop, so turn off the pain."  Every step up to that point had me thinking I should drop.  Brutal.  But it's tough to drop when you've raised money for such a worthwhile cause, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy for this race in honor of my cousin Aidan who turned 11 yesterday!

My right leg was carrying the bulk of the load both days.  On mile 12 of the half my right quad gave me a twinge going up an incline (because there are no hills at Disney, only inclines, according to the race staff--I wish I could roll my eyes via text).  Then, the next day I started worrying on mile 9 of the marathon when it started feeling really tired.  By mile 12, she started cramping.  I was just over 2:00 at the half, but 4:00 was out of sight for the full in the shape I was in.  Jim pulled me through, though, keeping the walking to a minimum, and I finished with a painful 4:18 with a hitch in my giddy up the day after a half.  I felt guilty slowing him down any more than I absolutely had to.  The poor guy ran a 3:42 just a few weeks ago in Las Vegas!  No matter how guilty I felt, though, it was fantastic to have him there.

C'mon. If you've ever run a long distance, you know how good it feels to finally be off of your feet.

Anyway, the left knee still feels like it has a fever, and the pain is still there, but it's actually a little better than it was before the 40-mile weekend.  I'm actually excited to get out next Saturday and see how she reacts.  If there's any shot of the Zumbro 100 in April I've gotta be able to put miles on her, and lots of them, soon.