Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 41 - Only 47 Days Left Until the London Marathon


I started out today’s run very skeptical. That said, my overall physical condition improved greatly overnight. The ice and ibuprofen must have done their job. Even then, I had that feeling where you know you’re not quite better and feel somewhat fragile.

Backing up a bit, I started my gym membership today at Gold’s. I was expecting the whole sign-up process to be very quick. It took almost 45 mins. The guy helping me was great, showed me around, very personable, talked me through all the options but took a long time doing it all. This is an important detail because I had dinner plans at 8pm with Elise and Blake. I needed to finish my run by 7:30pm to allow enough time to shower and get to the restaurant. I got to the gym at 6:20 with only 3 miles on the agenda. I thought that would be plenty of time. After 45 minutes getting setup and then changing, it was already 7:15pm.

Back to the beginning of my run. I was starting slow based on my state of being but was heavily pressed for time. After a minute or so, I decided to just go for it.

…another side note…I was in Gold’s Cardio Theatre which is one of my new favorite places to run. They have a huge room of treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes, etc. with a movie screen and the lights down extra low. This will be the only exception I make when it comes to my hate for treadmills.

I ramped the treadmill up to a 6:50 pace and focused on my breathing. The movie (The Killers) was a helpful distraction but after 9mins, even with good breathing, I was feeling the burn. I upped the speed again to drop into a 6:45 pace, held that for awhile and had to start backing it off. Closer to the end of the run I was trying desperately to get my time back into an average sub-7 minute pace but my lungs wouldn’t carry me there.

Although I didn’t break 7, I did set a new time PR.

Stats: 3 miles – 21:32 time – 7:10 pace

Look forward to breaking 7 in the weeks to come. I haven’t shared this publicly before, but I have a 5K goal after my marathon pursuits. I want to run sub-20 5Ks. Fast enough to place top 10 in a couple of races. I’ll be the chunkiest guy in the top 10, guaranteed.


Day 40 - Only 48 Days Left Until the London Marathon


I am incredibly grateful that today is a recovery day. After this past weekend, I am physically beat up, mentally exhausted and now a little afraid to run outdoors at night. Ice and ibuprofen are my two best friends today. Both ankles are sore, right foot feels fractured (an exaggeration but the same general feeling), my right leg is swollen from the fall, knees ache and my back hurts (also probably from the fall).

There are still 48 days until the marathon. Before this past weekend, that number was encouraging. It meant I had plenty of time to meet all of my training goals. Now it seems like a lot of opportunity between now and then to get hurt. Meeting my goal time is important but more important is just being healthy enough to finish the race.

To reduce some of the stress on my body and work towards overall fitness, I am going to join a gym with the intent of getting a personal trainer for a few days each week. I’m going to substitute a few of the road miles with high intensity lifting and circuit routine. So, it should ideally replace 1 hour (two half hour sessions)  of running each week or 7 miles. I’ll still get the benefit of cardio but give my legs some extra rest.

Doing this will give me an extra level of confidence and as a side benefit may help me to lose some weight. 5-10lbs would be great.

As another side note, as the number of miles each week has gone up so has my appetite. I am constantly hungry. It is like my body is trying to prep for hibernation. Not helping with the weight issue.

That is it for now.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 39 - Only 49 Days Left Until the London Marathon


By just looking at this route on the map, you would think it would have been pretty straight forward. Keep in mind also, that I had just run a horrible route in Holdenville the night I was really hoping for a nice smooth run.

The goal for tonight was 13.5 miles. Good long distance but not completely exhausting. I was a little sore from the two rolled (left and right) ankles from the night before so I had a long Epsom salt soak before heading out. Elise was a little bummed that I was spending two evenings in a row on longer runs so she headed out to go eat dinner. In the interest of running somewhere new, I mapped out a loop that I thought would be a well populated area.

I started out of the neighborhood and headed North. I had run the first section before so no big surprises yet. I then turned down a pitch black road (this should have been my first sign). This is also where the nice wide sidewalk I was running on disappeared. At first I thought, well probably a dead road, not much traffic. I was wrong. I couldn't see the ditch and there wasn't enough room on the shoulder to run and safely avoid the oncoming traffic. So I switched lanes depending on which direction the traffic was coming. Inevitably, traffic came from both directions and I was forced into the ditch. This went on for almost 2 miles before I finally a street light. I'm not exaggerating, there wasn't a single source of light until then. It was a turn in for semis into some type of oil lease. I continued dodging vehicles and lucking out when I was forced into the ditch that I didn't trip, step into a puddle of water, etc.

Another 2 miles later, I came across a neighborhood and across Bell Helicopter's manufacturing plant. So a little more light and more importantly it allowed cars to see me. Most at this point were swinging wide around me as they passed. My nerves were finally a little more at ease but still asking myself why in the hell am I out here running.

It was only a half mile later or so that it went dark again. Again, really not much shoulder to work with but enough that I could get a foot or two off the road if needed. Cars were seemingly still able to see me but not until a lot closer to me. Finally had a car that didn't see me and at the last second, I went to step off the road into the ditch and nothing was there. The road had washed out that spot creating a three foot hole. I slammed hard into the sharp edge of the washed out road with my right shin and elbow soon after. I came to an immediate halt stuck in an awkward position in this hole on back road in Arlington. Great.

I hopped up quickly, initially thinking "well at least I avoided the car" and secondly "damn it, this is really going to kill my pace"....what is wrong with me? I could barely support my weight on my right leg at first and was just doing well to manage some sort of limping jog. I was determined to get my miles in so I carried on. About a quarter mile later, I was finally at a decent pace again and managed to get back to a proper gait. Still, it was painful to run. I came up on the first civilization I had seen in almost 5 miles, I seriously contemplated quitting and having Elise come get me. I kept running.

It wasn't long after, that I was back on the pitch black roads dodging traffic and more now than before I was determined to avoid the ditch. There was a little less traffic on this road so it didn't require avoiding all that many cars.

Headed up a hill I saw a couple of silhouettes in the distance under a street light. Dogs. Lucky for me, they hadn't noticed me yet. I turned around quickly and decided this week of running was just about over. I made it back to the Chevron and went inside to call Elise. I tried explaining where I was at but didn't really know. My directions were something like "head West out of the neighborhood onto Oak something street, drive North a little ways and turn on to Green's a dark road and will weave for awhile before you see a Bell Helicopter plant, stay on that road for awhile and the first sign of civilization will be a Chevron, I'm there, come get me please..." She didn't seem too impressed with me on the phone.

A little while later, she came to my rescue. She seemed even less impressed in person. I got in the car and got an ear full about the where I had been running and made to swear that I would never again run somewhere I hadn't already driven in the car to check out.

Honestly, I didn't completely disagree. I was lucky something serious didn't happen. I won't be running in ultra dark places like that anymore and have purchased some reflective bands to wear on late night or early morning runs.

Stats: 11.55 miles - 1:39 time - 8:36 pace


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 38 - Only 50 Days Left Until the London Marathon


This weekend we are in Holdenville for Mike and Dan’s birthday. I still had to run but thought it would be nice to be out running somewhere new and with less congestion than Dallas. Oh and did I mention a break from the hills in Arlington.

I didn’t start out so good. I left my water bottle, belt and Gu in Dallas. I didn’t realise this until we are already in Denison. The only place that looked like they might have anything was the local Wal-Mart. I did find Muscle Milk but nothing else…

We relaxed most of the afternoon and I let my dinner settle for an hour and half so it was well after dark before I started running. I went on Daily Mile beforehand and mapped my route. Surprisingly, the map seemed to cover all the streets in Holdenville pretty well. I wanted avoid running down dark country roads so I mapped a route that weaved back and forth across Holdenville. So far so good.

Now to address the no water bottle situation. I printed a couple of copies of the map, one for Elise and one for me. The map I printed for me was to avoid getting lost, silly right? Especially in Holdenville, how could I get lost? I didn’t want to miss a turn, etc. so I printed the copy. The second copy was for Elise to know where to meet me with water. The plan was for her to meet me at the 4mi, 6mi, 8mi, 10mi marks.

I took off out towards 270 and at first everything was pretty much as expected, no great but at least reasonable lighting. There was a lot more traffic than I was expecting. I’m not sure where everyone was headed on a Saturday night in Holdenville but a lot of people out. The wind was blowing mildly and the hills, if you call them that, were nice and easy.

When I hit the edge of town, I turned back and was curious whether or not Elise would be at the three mile mark. She’s had a history of not following my maps very well... I approached the Holdenville High School football field and nearby park. The first thing I noticed was a sketchy looking, old Monte Carlo, with blacked out windows parked near the field and got a huge whiff of weed. They weren’t trying to hide it or weren’t doing a very good job of it. Either way, not something I was expecting to see on my little outing in Holdenville. For a second, I thought I might have ventured into an Southeast Dallas neighborhood. If you are from Southeast Dallas, don’t get offended. It’s a broad generalization, I know, but also very true in several areas Southeast Dallas.  Then a little further up the road, there was my wife parked next to the road. She had a water bottle balanced on the side view mirror. Perfect.

I snagged the water bottle from the mirror and kept my pace. She drove up around on my left, opened the window, chatted a bit with me and I tossed the bottle back into the passenger side window. That my friend’s is curbside service for runners. I hoped for a second or two there she was going to play the Rocky theme.

First three miles were the best and then everything headed downhill (not literally). Running down Main to the North side of town, the existence of sidewalks and decent lighting all disappeared. The occasional light from liquor store or mechanic shop. Ever so often I’d get a glimmer of the broken glass I was stomping over. Still, all and all, not too bad.

Elise was parked up the street at my turn around point. I guess at this point she had decided to follow me around versus going back and forth from the house. I quickly noticed that the roads, although I had assumed would be paved, were gravel. Gravel is not terrible but when you’ve been trying to avoid injury at all cost – it is not a welcome site when there is no street light. Elise must have been thinking the same thing, so she whipped around behind me and turned her brights on. Lifesaver (there is a chance that is literal). If you could imagine a neighborhood where Meth labs are kept, this was the scene. That said, very unfair statement – could be really great people living there but it fit the description on the level of creepiness.

Not far down the gravel road, I saw what looked like a dead end. Surely not, the map (which I still had tucked in my pants) had this road going all the way through back across town. Dead end...I hooked to the right and came back out on Main. At this point, Elise could tell this was probably going to be a recurring problem. She made sure I had a quick drink of water then took off in front of me to check out the other areas I would be running.

On my way back down main, I started noticing how many churches Holdenville has. I don’t recall the number but it was something close to 10. How many churches does one small town need? Completely separate discussion and debate but I  mention it as it made the time pass while I was running. I was contemplating how many blow out disagreements occurred between difference church members or groups over time that resulted in “Fine, we’ll just start our own church…” two or three months later and less than a block down a new church was built.

As I turn into the neighborhood on the South side of town, I realise how terrible the street conditions are and see that much like the North side – there is little to no street lighting. Pot holes the size of VW Bugs. I’m running along, partly tripping every few minutes but still surviving. I’m thrilled once I get back out near the center of town around the school. At least there is better lighting here and the roads weren’t bad. I knew that would be short lived.

Not long after leaving the center of town, I find myself back in the dark abyss. I am approaching yet another church and notice a big Sheppard dog wandering about out front. I don’t think much of it at first but in the back of my head have decided to charge after the dog if he gives me trouble. He noticed me soon after and started a little grumbling bark but nothing too serious. When I got closer he started growling and barking more aggressively. I didn’t know what else to do, so I sprinted hard in his direction yelling at him. He kept barking but was backing away rather than running at me. When I passed him, he started running after me. So I turned around and ran back at him. He backed away and we repeated the same process at least one more time. Crisis averted. Thought I was going to have a wrestling match on my hands.

Elise was waiting up the street, water bottle on the mirror. I was really getting annoyed with this run but the water bottle thing was welcomed luxury. Like water bottle valet. I felt spoiled.

Still running in the dark, the inevitable happened, I rolled hard on my right ankle stepping off into a deep pot hole. I was pissed. That was last thing I needed to happen. I considered calling it quits but was only 7 miles in and really needed the miles. I kept going. Elise was back behind me again giving me light to see.

We got to the far reach of town on the North side and realised we were in for another random detour. Side note here, there is a Casino in Holdenville – I had no idea. It gave off a ton of light and Elise had an opportunity drive ahead of me to see where we needed to head next. Of course it wasn’t straight forward. We took a left at a dead end (not on my map), a quick right back into creepymethlabville, under a railroad bridge with DO NOT ENTER constructions signs..I mean the bridge was being held up by wood pilings that looked eaten up with termites..and back onto the street we were meant to be on. Last loop on the North end…glad to be down with that.

Back to the South side of town, I was nearing 8 miles and almost done. Not before another near dog attack. This time around it was a German Sheppard and he was much more aggressive. I charged at him, he kept coming at me, and it wasn’t until about five feet of distance between us that he conceded a little bit. I started to run back towards the road and he came at me again. This time I got the sense that he wasn’t going to back down. About 10 feet apart this time and his owner called him off. Crisis averted again. Who needs a Gu when you have genuine adrenaline pumping? I’m out of breathe but not because of the run.

Almost over, I kept telling myself, almost over. Elise was up ahead waiting on me, she was giving me a heads up about yet another fricking detour. We re-routed and I headed East through the neighborhood. Remember this side of town has the pot holes the size of VW Bugs. Elise stayed behind me the most of the way, giving me enough light to avoid the pot holes. She left for just a few minutes to check the roads/conditions around the corner. It didn’t take long and I then rolled hard on my left ankle…again one of the giant sized pot holes. Practically limping, I made it back out to main and down 270 back to Mike and Mary’s. I finished and that was an accomplishment in itself.

Moral – don’t run in Holdenville. If you do, carry a spotlight, mace and avoid the North and South parts of town.

Run specs – 10.32 miles – 1:31 time – 8:48 pace


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 37 - Only 51 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi All,

Yes, I am way behind on blog posts but I'm committed to journaling each day of training. So I plan to knock out several each day until I catch up...which might mean by the time of the marathon.

This run was my second in the new neighborhood. I was feeling great in terms of my legs and general attitude towards running. I'm still not convinced about how these hills are going to effect my running. I mean we are not talking small grades or long and steady inclines. These things are like the hills you see in San Fran.

I wanted it on this run and took off a fast pace. The first part of the run was basically down a cliff, one I would have to run back up later, so I took full advantage, leaned back into my heels and went full speed down. That was as easy as it was going to get the next mile and half was a gradual uphill grade before monster hill after monster hill. I was determined to get a good time out of this run so I just kept pressing. By the time I reached my next downhill, I was nearly exhausted. Not much more to go at this point.

I turned the corner and faced the cliff that I originally came down, pressed forward on my toes and climbed up. My legs were burning all the way to the top, I realised I hadn't looked at my watch yet so I took a peak. I was averaging under 8min pace, so as much as I wanted to cruise in after the leg crusher, I sprinted the last quarter mile in. Gutted it out.

Results - 5.04 miles - 39:12 time - 7:46 pace

My first coherent thought after I caught my breath was "take that you f--ing hills and wind...wheeze.."


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 36 - Only 52 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi There,

The first few days in the new neighborhood, I've been trying to scope out where to run. It doesn't look very promising. I'm still not 100% from the weekend but it is time to get back out there pounding (softly pounding) the pavement.

Elise and I drove to the grocery store and found a route with sidewalks and mostly good lighting. The only not so encouraging parts are the gia-normous hills. I meant to take pictures of these things to share, I will eventually.

So off I go, seven miles to dominate. My focus tonight -- don't get hurt and don't let the hills win.

I managed to finish in 1hr or an 8:31 pace. Solid run and wasn't nearly as bad I had originally thought it would be. Started out with little motivation and felt strong at the end. Sprinted up and over the last hill to the finish.


Day 35 - Only 53 Days Left Until the London Marathon


So, about that extra day of rest...yes. The answer is yes.

I didn't mention this in the previous blog but after the long run on Sunday. We moved from our apartment to a house in Arlington. It wasn't an all out move, like some of you may be thinking. When we moved from Calgary back to Dallas, we had most of our belongings shipped directly to London. We had a carload, a full carload, of things we needed to get by with until our move to London. We've now been in Dallas about five months and have started to collect things. Our one carload has grown to three. A couple of contributing factors: (1.) Pantry and food items, we had to buy food and a lot of basics like spices, sugar, flour, etc. (2.) Christmas, although we mostly got small things (in size) from friends and family, it adds up (3.) We are good at spending money.

What does this have to do with the marathon, my physical state of being, etc.? I'm getting there, promise.

Elise started getting sick earlier in day and progressively got worse by the evening. I didn't want her running up and down the stairs, running around the house packing and so forth. So instead, I made 10+ trips up and down our two flights of stairs. Any normal day, this would be no big deal. On Sunday though my legs were as beat up as they have ever been, I mean I barely finished the 22.5 mile route. Now, I'm running up and down stairs trying to pack the car as fast as I can so we can drive 35 minutes to Arlington to stay the night.

Very late but eventually we made it to Arlington and I didn't fall down the stairs. Good so far. That was the end of it though, we still had two more carloads left in the apartment to move. Monday night, right after work, we went back to the apartment. Elise was still sick. 10+ trips up and down the stairs, I had the second load ready to go. Around 10pm, we headed back to Arlington. Not over yet. I had to go back to the apartment for a final load. Got back to the apartment and made another 5+ trips up and down the stairs. I finally got home well after midnight, unpacked the car and went to bed exhausted.

So to recap.

Aproximately 50 flights of stairs
Very little sleep
Light lifting
Cross training on rest day, complete.

I checked daily mile, no StairMaster option. Bummer, I tallied steps this week.

All this to say, I deserve another day off from running.


Day 34 - Only 54 Days Left Until the London Marathon


Day after the toughest physical challenge I've ever experienced. Not so terrible, exceptionally sore but no injuries. Comparing this round of training to the training that led up to my first half marathon is much different.

When I was training for my first half marathon, I was mostly focused on completing the distance and getting better times. I had a week or two in the beginning where both my diet and my level of physical fitness were causing some problems but otherwise I wasn't experiencing any type of serious pain or soreness. I was able to address the diet/hydration issues quickly and it didn't take long for my fitness level to improve to a point where I could manage the weekly mile totals.

This time around it has been all about this delicate balance of pushing my physical limits, overtraining and avoiding injury. I feel like every run has the potential for injury. I consider more rest but ultimately I am worried about not acheiving my 3:40 time I've been keeping the miles and intensity ramped up each week.

I'm pretty beat today after the long run yesterday. If I don't feel at least 25% better tomorrow, I'll push my next run back a day.