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Archive for January, 2014

I really wanted to write something long and poetic about this race, but it’s just not there.  I’ve stalled on writing it for far too long, though.  This race was in October, and it’s January for crying out loud! So I’m going to just get this out there. I’m sure I’ll get lengthy and poetic on something else, later.

It was an important race for me, a milestone of sorts. After my first two half-marathons didn’t go so well, this became my goal race for the season, and it went really, really, well.  I have decided that I’ll never catch the euphoria of the experience in words.  So with less pressure on, here’s what happened:

  • The weather was nice and cool: high 30s at race start, low 40s  at race end, partly sunny, and a light wind.
  • I met some buddies from my running meetup group before the race and exchanged mutual support, but I resolved to run this one on my own, and in my own head.
  • The race was medium sized and well-organized.
  • My food/bathroom strategy before the race, and my fueling strategy during the race (shot bloks every half mile from 6-12.5) worked really well. No gastric distress on the race course!
  • Tapering before the race paid off in a big way, and I got stronger through the first 5 miles.
  • There was a big climb at mile 6, and while I took it easy on the climb, I passed a whole bunch of people there for a morale boost.
  • Miles 7, 8, and 9 were gently downhill and the race had spread out quite a bit at that point. It was just a matter of keeping the feet going and grabbing a shot blok regularly. I started getting less hungry here.
  • Miles 10 and 11 were the hardest. I knew I was close to making it in under my stretch goal time of 2 hours, but never saw the 11 mile sign and was doubting myself- plus I was starting to feel like my legs didn’t have much left.
  • Once I saw the sign for mile 12, I knew I had it and ran sub 8 through the end of the race. Seeing that sign was like flipping a switch.
  • I ran the final 200 yards fast enough that my wife didn’t recognize me (moving too fast, can’t be him!)- but who wants to finish with anything left in the tank, right?
  • We had a FANTASTIC breakfast of pancakes, bacon, sausage, and coffee afterwards at the Griddle, one of the best breakfast places in town.
  • Somehow, finishing a half-marathon under 2 hours makes me feel like all the training was worth it, and that I’m progressing adequately as a runner. I am looking forward to my next goal race, and seeing where my running can go from here.

Here are the race results:

2013 City of Trees Half Marathon (10/13/2013)
Chip Time: 1:56:49.2
Age Group (30-39M) 38/87
Gender Place: 117/267
Overall Place: 181/716

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If you’re curious about the run streak I’m referring to in this post, here’s a link back to my blog post about the Runner’s World Run Streak. The euphoria that led to my injury is pretty evident, there. This post describes a darker side to “streaking”.

I ignored a “tweak” in my calf for the last few days of 2013.  Just a nagging little soreness; a little tightness in the upper part of my left calf.  The excitement about maintaining a streak, the accomplishment of having run for over 40 days in a row… they overrode my good sense.  It was surprisingly easy to ignore the little twinge and the soreness I was experiencing, even though I know that Running Rule #1 is: “LISTEN TO YOUR BODY”.

I gave it two days of rest once my run streak was over, thinking that it would be enough to repair any wear and tear from the streak. Then I tackled a Saturday morning training run with a couple of running buddies who are regularly a touch faster than me.  Usually they drop me, but fresh off my rest days, I was really enjoying the quick pace, and kept up with them, chatting about goals, marathon training, early rising, and Boston, until- OUCH! About a mile and a half into the run, I felt my calf pull, tighten, start to burn, and then finally, cramp.

For about the next 400 yards, I jogged on, hoping that it would loosen up, but it was no use.  I had to pull up and do the limp of shame, a mile-and-a-half back to the parking lot.  By the time I got home, I couldn’t walk without a limp.  What’s worse, my run that morning was supposed to be a prelude to an active day. My amazing wife had gotten me a Nordic skiing lesson package for Christmas, and I was really excited about starting my lessons that day.  The way the lesson package works, you do lessons 4 Saturdays in a row, and then your ski rentals and Nordic trails pass are covered for the year.  I was really worried that I could miss a full month of lessons and have to wait until February before I could do the lessons. Much of the skiing season would be over by the time I was ready to use the season pass.  Regardless of the consequences, there was no way I could go skiing with the way my leg felt. Can you tell who felt like a bozo?

After a few ice sessions and a night in a compression sleeve, I still had a bit of a limp. Using compression, rest, and my massage stick, I was improving with each day. By mid-week I was walking normally.  I was able to slide into a Nordic skiing lesson on Thursday that got me back on track to complete my lessons in January. After 4 days of icing and compression, I was able to do the lesson on Thursday, and get back on track with another lesson the following Saturday.  Both ski lessons went really well, and my coordination and balance are improving.  Nordic skiing involves much less pounding than running, and feels much easier on my joints. There’s a lot of Idaho to explore on skis in the future!

Today marks two weeks since my injury.  I got in a two mile run this morning, though it wasn’t completely comfortable. I can still feel some tightness in the hurt calf. Hopefully compression and rolling/massage will loosen it up and I’ll be able to start training seriously for the Les Bois 10k coming up on March 1.

As for “the streak”… I think my streaking days are over.  Despite my efforts to work in low-key, slow 1-mile days, I still got hurt.  If I try a streak next year, it will be more along the lines of a excercise streak, or workout streak, and not focused solely on running.  If I added biking, hiking, skiing, or swimming a few times a week instead of running for 40+ days straight, I’d probably be better off today.

*update 1/21* I’m working in some walk-run training to try and ease back into running, since the 2-mile effort brought back a good deal of soreness.  If it’s not noticeably better in a week, I’m going to have to see a doctor.

Have you ever done a run streak?

What are your favorite winter non-running activities?

Have you found a doctor that understands runners?

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I haven’t done a goals post since the beginning of 2012! That one was focused almost entirely on home brewing. This one will be a bit more broad. Our little family has been through lots of changes since then- many of which I could never have predicted.  Though life is never predictable, it’s a nice excercise to lay out your expectations. It’s always interesting to look back and see where you are, vs where you thought you’d be.  Let’s start, shall we? I started this post with an overwhelmingly positive attitude and a whole sheaf full of goals for running, outdoors activity, homebrewing, and family life in the new year.  Then I strained a calf muscle running, and I’m forced to re-evaluate.  I suppose this is healthy.  Prior to my injury, running goals were at the top of my list of priorities. Perhaps now is a good time to step back and figure out where some other things fit it.

Lets break it down for 2014:

Family Life

The wifelette and I are expecting a new addition to the family around the end of March! We will get to refresh ourselves on the joys of raising a new baby and all the sleep deprivation that goes with it.  We are a little nervous, and a lot excited. That change will drive the rest of our priorities for the year. At this point, a swing and a bassinet have been purchased, and the crib is assembled.  The room is painted a lovely shade of lavender.  I’m working to repaint Wifelette’s old dresser sparkling white, and then we’ll be ready (as we can be) for the little one to show up! Anyone have a good story on how adding a second kid changed things? We’ve been practicing man-to-man defense.

Home Brewing

So… I made two beers in all of 2013.  Running ended up taking precedence over all of my brewing, especially once I started dedicating myself to long runs on the weekends.  This year I’m looking for more balance.  We have nearly settled completely into the new house, so it’s time to get the equipment out and make some beer! Goals for 2014:

1. Replace all of my tubing and cold-side plastic gear. I’m blaming old tubing and plastic for fouling my last beer, a hefeweizen that never tasted right. Replacements are on the way!

2. Brew a beer for the new baby’s arrival.  Not for the baby, of course, but for mom and dad! Perhaps a repeat of the B^4 Baby Bailey Belgian Blonde?

3. Brew at least once a quarter.  That should help me stay in practice, and have something nice to drink regularly. I missed homebrew a lot last year.

4. Enter a local contest. I had good luck with contests back in North Carolina, and It would give me something to shoot for.

5. Stretch goals- improve my mash tun to achieve 10-gallon capacity, and start kegging.

Any advice on work-life-brewing balance?

Running

Lets not tie this up with the injury discussion; you can read all of my whining about my bum leg on twitter. I am hopeful that I can still accomplish my major running goals.  If this injury is truly a grade one calf strain, I should be back in business in 2-4 weeks. Strikethroughs used to show what’s being dropped or moved.

1. April 19th. Run The Race To Robie Creek, the toughest race in the northwest. There. It’s in writing.  If I can get in, I’m running up and over Aldape summit in April. I understand that registration can be tough because so many want to enter, but I’m hopeful.

2. January 18th. Run the Wilson Creek Frozen 10.8 mi Trail Race. Seems like a nutty fun thing to brag about, and a good way to stay in shape for Robie Creek. Cancelled due to injury. Sigh.

3. March 1st. The Les Bois 10k Trail Run. This was my first race in Idaho last year, and my first sub-1hr 10k. It’s a tough course, but if I get back on the training horse in February, I could come close to my personal record for the distance. It will be my checkpoint to see how ready I am for Robie.

4. Train seriously for Robie during the 7 weeks between March 1 and April 19th.

5. May 24th. Take revenge on the High Desert Trail Run Half Marathon.

6. Run something fun and new. Perhaps the Sun Valley Half Marathon on June 7th, or the River of No Return 25k on June 21st?

7. August 31st. Actually make it to the Payette Lake Run 30k. I cancelled last year due to lack of training from an extended fire season. Perhaps I can make it this year. If I do, it will be my first race longer than half-marathon distance.

8. October 5th. Barber to Boise.  This should be a great, fun 10k that I can walk to from the house. I didn’t do it last year because I was aiming at the City of Trees half-marathon.

9. Ski for cross-training. I have moved to a place with a real winter climate and big mountains that catch plenty of snow. On to of that, wifelette got me Nordic skiing lessons for Christmas! I’m going to take advantage and enjoy the winter outdoor sports.

10. DON’T GET INJURED (again). Enough said.

That’s enough running to get me back around to the holiday season. I will probably also work in some things that don’t have dates yet, like the Ash Dash 10k, once they get scheduled. How far in advance do you plan your running and racing schedule?

After reading through all this, I’m excited. Also, I may be certifiably insane. But I figure, as long as I’m focused on living a full life, instead of focused on being “busy”- things will work out right. Happy New Year, friends.  May you be happy, and full!

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My December running was dominated by STREAKING! Ok, no, not THAT kind of streaking.  I decided to participate in the Runners World magazine Run Streak.  You can read about it here.  A run streak just means running at least one mile every day, day after day. No rest days, days off, cross training days, etc.  Simple, right? I had been lacking some motivation, having finished my training cycle for the City of Trees half-marathon, and did not have another serious race in sight until the Race for Robie Creek in April. Completing a streak from Thanksgiving to New Years gave some purpose to my running and made it a bit easier (mentally) to run regularly during the holidays. I basically replaced true rest days with very slow 1 mile days. (more…)

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