Saturday, February 14, 2015

Random racing ruminations: Week 12, Viewing the unfavorable favorably

After getting back out on the sidewalks last weekend, this week turned into another string of days without running.

Tuesday I had a five mile run planned. It didn't happen. I put in a long work day and equally long night working.

Wednesday I finally got the chest cold people have been sharing with each other the last month.

Thursday I had another five mile run planned. I woke up in the morning with a horrible cough and sore throat. Then I topped it off with another extended day at work.

This weekend I will not be running either. I considered the "neck" test of running or resting: any illness above the neck like stuffiness and runny nose it is generally safe to still run, but any illness below the neck like chest cough, tightness, or body aches mean it is better not to run. Essentially I'm sidelined again.

I'm frustrated. Frustration has been the theme for the week, in my running life, work life, and generally in life feeling that I'm not accomplishing much. Often, a little perspective hits you right when you need it and that happened for me Wednesday. My barber, who has been cutting my hair for over six months, was just finishing my haircut when he asked, "How did you get that scar back there?" I explained to him that the scar he saw at the top of my neck is just the beginning of a long, disfigured line of disfigured tissue that runs entirely down my neck, traveling the length of my spine, ending half-way down my back.

Typically I don't think about that scar much these days. It is me. I've become accustomed to the neck and back stiffness and pain. It's significance hasn't carried much weight in my thoughts lately. But as I recounted my car accident and the extended healing and surgeries afterwards to my barber, he shared his life or death car accident experience. In that moment, my perspective shifted back to many years ago when life took on a different meaning. Coincidentally yesterday was the anniversary of that monumental event.

So I should be grateful. I only have a chest cold. I shouldn't be frustrated that I haven't run this week, because soon I'll be out running again. I'm reminded there is much in life I must view favorably, even when my feelings are less than favorable.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Random racing ruminations: Week 13, Gains

(5.65 miles)
Temperature 56
Mile 1 = 9:07
Mile 2 = 9:03
Mile 3 = 8:49
Mile 4 = 8:44
Mile 5 = 8:53

(2.94 miles)
Temperature 52
Mile 1 = 8:06
Mile 2 = 8:26
Mile 2.93 = 9:32
My break from running has lasted too long. My achilles feels better and much of the snow and ice has cleared from the trails and sidewalks. Saturday brought a beautiful 56 degree day. It felt great to be outside running again. The almost week-long rest must have been good for my body because my time improved. The only challenge was an annoying one: some sidewalks were not entirely cleared of snow. Instead of taking the extra time to remove snow from the entire area, some people only removed a little path. Or, there were piles in the middle of the sidewalk. Or, snow was trampled down and compacted instead of cleared away.

Approaching these areas required me to stop running so I wouldn't slip or fall. Additionally, I had to strategically and carefully place my feet in places as to not get my shoes and feet wet. Unfortunately, the remaining snow was essentially wet slush. Only half a mile into the run, my right foot got soaked. I felt the cool water douse my sock. Running with a wet foot is terrible. Towards the end of my run, I couldn't put up with the rubbing anymore and stopped shy of 6 miles because I could feel the blisters forming.

Sunday I went for a three mile interval run. At the beginning I was pushing for a faster pace than normal. However, just like on Saturday, some of the uncleared sidewalks got the best of me, especially at the end, forcing me to walk. This was tragic and disappointing because I was hoping for a fast run to celebrate.

Overall, I can't be too frustrated with these two runs. I'm making gains, even if they are somewhat miniscule. I'm hoping every week's slight gain will compound as I press on. This weekend my thoughts focused on humble, small-scale progress.

Lily is my inspiration. I see her develop slightly different traits each day. Her gains are barely noticeable, but nonetheless significant.

This weekend Lily's crawling finally cultivated distance. She started in the living room and then slowly but determinedly made her way after Charlie, her canine brother. He was walking back and forth to the front door. The sun was brightly shining through the glass. He was taking in rays and keeping track of life in the neighborhood. Lily wanted to be part of the action. She shouted, squealed, and grunted her way, inching along, out of the living room, and then after Charlie, toward the front door.

As the training weeks for the Lincoln Half Marathon pass from one to the next, time seems to be the sole variable fighting both for and against me. I'm fighting, too, through the difficulty and challenges whatever they may be. If Lily can persist through the challenges of learning to crawl, I can keep on running.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Random racing ruminations: Week 14 and 13, Interruptions

Saturday (6.0 mile run)
Temperature 36 degrees
Mile 1 = 9:07
Mile 2 = 9:29
Mile 3 = 9:36
Mile 4 = 9:16
Mile 5 = 10:38
Mile 6 = 11:16

It's been a while since I've written about my training and this blog post contains all the reasons why.

Last week was my third week of training for the Lincoln Half-Marathon and it threw me for a surprise injury. My achilles tendons on both my left and right feet began to cause stiffness and pain. I immediately turned to some quick internet searches and quickly discovered achilles pain wasn't something to take lightly. While my issue was probably not serious, everything I read online pointed to a variety of possible reasons:
  • My activity increased too quickly after being sedentary
  • I was running too many hills
  • My workouts were maybe too intense
  • I wasn't lifting, cross-training, or building other leg muscles which put stress on the tendon
  • I'm over 30 years old, a common injury for people my age
  • I needed better shoes
Instead of going out for a three or four mile run on Thursday, I rested. I felt better Thursday, but thought it not wise to push myself. The decision to rest was frustrating for me because I'm already getting in the habit of looking forward to the days when I have a scheduled run.

Probably the best thing I did was take a trip to Peak Performance here in Omaha.This place is absolutely awesome for runners. I've never been there before and I was immediately impressed. I knew I needed a better, quality running shoe. The moment I walked in the door, I was happily greeted in under a minute by one of the employees. She asked what I was looking for and then stayed with me the entire time of the transaction. I described my problem with achilles pain. I explained I was training for the Lincoln Half-Marathon. She measured my feet and looked at my arch. She watched my gait walking around the track inside the store. Based on my walk and pronation, she directed my attention towards a certain set of shoes and happily grabbed four different kinds for me to try on. Then she analyzed how the shoes fit my stride, sharing with me the positives and negative of each pair.

Determined to get back in the routine of running after four days of rest, I put on my new shoes Saturday morning and hit the trail before the serious snow began for the day. The air was dreary and damp but it felt good to be out at 8:00a.m. The light drizzle was the only real challenge since my feet felt great and were adequately protected. I was happy with my fairly basic time each mile, but then at mile five a hill got the best of my breathing and I gave in and stopped for a short walk. Once I was able to recover my breathing I picked up my pace again until I hit another massive hill, not even giving it much effort this time around. I walked again. The six miles is the longest I've gone thus far, and also the first time I've walked this much on a run.

The Saturday run was equally thrilling and disappointing. What was injured most this week was my pride. I'm disappointed my training took a hit this early in the process. But I was ready and determined to get back out there and be persistent through the challenges of it all.

Snow came Saturday evening and Sunday. Then more snow fell early during week four of my training, halting any opportunity for activity outdoors. My running canvas now coated in a white blanket, called out for a change to running indoors for a while. We have a treadmill in our basement, unassembled, in a box. My plan to put it together and test it out was interrupted by travel for business. Once I get the treadmill up and running, I'll be up and running again.