Monday, March 22, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Are we even close? How much longer? Questions I'm sure every parent has heard on more occasions than they can remember. Well, I'm starting to get that feeling. But in this case, it's not because I'm tired of the training or ready to be there, but because I'm just ready.

Last week's race brought a good scare to me as I've endured a very tender hip all week. Constant icing and ibuprofen has done not much more than mask the pain. All sorts of crazy thoughts going through my head this week about what could possibly be the problem. The worst being stress fracture and no running for several weeks. No way, this is not happening, or is it?

I took Monday off from running and then an easy 6 mile run on Tuesday to test it out. Pretty much discomfort the whole run and even more afterwards. Ugh. My stubbornness took me to the streets on Wednesday and Thursday for 10 mile runs on each day only to encounter more of the same. An early call Friday morning to my physical therapist was too late to get me in that day so I would have to wait until Monday morning. What to do in the meantime? Run, don't run, ice it, apply heat, cut it off? Well run it was so Friday and Saturday were easy runs of 6 miles each. Sunday I decided I would go forward with my planned long run and give it a shot.

It wasn't long into it and the discomfort kicked in pretty good in the hip/gluteus area on the left side. Not exactly sure why I continued other than I hate to quit so it was 20.5 miles at an overall 7:09 pace with miles 10-17 averaging 6:16. I was trying to hit goal marathon pace of about 6:20 but had a difficult time with the wind working against me, with me, and across me at times. By the time the run was over I couldn't decide if I was happy, hacked off or just indifferent about the whole run. After a little consideration, it was the later.

While I hit the goal miles pretty good and felt comfortable while running them, the wind and even more so, my hip were about to drive me to drinking........heavily. Why now, why does the wind blow and why was this hip acting up one month out from the biggest race of my life? The good thing was that I made it, I was still walking, albeit with a horrible pain and I was now pretty certain that it was a muscular injury and not a stress fracture.

Well, I didn't get an answer to the wind question and I really don't care since it's out of my control anyway, but this morning my PT gave me great news on the hip injury. Extreme tightness in my gluteus. The pain has been right at the top of my hip, but when he worked on it I could feel the tightness in my glute. After about 15 minutes of stretching and rubbing it out he gave me some stretching exercises to do multiple times a day. Key words.....foam roller. Let's just say my butt and my foam roller are about to get pretty acquainted with each other if they weren't already. He didn't seem the least bit concerned that we couldn't get this cleared up soon. To be on the safe side, I will most likely use him regularly through the remainder of my training to keep everything loose. Too much has gone into this to have something go wrong now.

Well back to the original question, are we there yet? No we're not, but very close. And with today's good news I'm starting to lick my chops. Two more weeks of hard training and then a two week taper and I should be ready to go for first of two big days.

This past weeks training was as follows:

2/15 - Rest
2/16 - 6 mile recovery run
2/17 - 10.2 mile medium long run
2/18 - 10 mile medium long run
2/19 - 6.2 mile recovery run
2/20 - 6 mile recovery run
2/21 - 20.49 mile long run

Total - 58.9 miles

Before checking out today, I want to thank those that have contributed to MCRC. The contributions as well as the moral support that I have received from friends is great. It certainly keeps me motivated to stay involved and make a difference in our community. I appreciate you guys! Also, I posted links to videos of both the Boston and Big Sur courses. Boston is a homemade You Tube video, but the Big Sur clip is a nicely narrated video. Really cool if you have any interest. Take care!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rock 'N' Roll Dallas Tune-up Race

I want to lead off by once again thanking those that have contributed to Midland Children's Rehabilitation Center on behalf of me and the Boston 2 BigSur Challenge. You guys are great!!! Check out the website for MCRC to see what they are all about.

This weekend I had the pleasure of staying with a running buddy and his family in Dallas for the weekend's race. By pure coincidence in relation to my fundraiser, he and his wife have 4 year old twins with autism. Absolutely wonderful boys. Saturday evening while dinner was being prepared we discussed several issues related to autism including the enormous cost that families of special needs children face. While we didn't discuss their needs specifically, it was obvious that it could be a huge burden on families of less means. Fortunately their boys are doing great for various reasons including the therapy that they have received, but I couldn't help but think that there must be numerous children that do not have the same success. Many families just simply can't afford the therapy services that those young boys have had the benefit of receiving. MCRC is there to serve exactly those families. They provide rehabilitation services to children in the Permian Basin with a neurological or orthopedic needs and to date the Center has never billed a child's family for services they have received.

On to the week of training. Being a racing week, there was a fair cutback in mileage to get ready for Sunday's 1/2 marathon in Dallas. Only about 35 miles total from Monday thru Saturday and I bunched up my two quality workouts on Monday and Tuesday to allow for some recovery days afterwards. Easy mileage.

The goal for Dallas Rock 'N' Roll 1/2 was to hit about 6:10 per mile up until through mile 8 which was a steady slight incline and then the course would begin its descent and I hoped to hit about 5:55 per mile the rest of the way in to the finish.

Nice size race, a lot of hoopla at the beginning, Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, loud music and a few elite runners in the field. Pretty exciting and especially since I was starting from the front row of about 10,000 runners. A quick prayer and moment of silence to myself to think of my Grandfather that was buried on Friday. I asked that his strength be with me and that I make him proud.

Well the gun sounds and the 6:10 pace quickly goes out the window. While I tried to stay calm, the adrenaline was flowing and I hit mile marker 1 at 5:54. This pace if continued could be disastrous. Miles 2 and 3 came in at 6:07 and 6:14 respectively. Oh no, now I've slowed down too much. In actuality, mile 3 seemed to have a fairly good hill so that was okay.

I then got into a groove and hit 6:02, 6:06, 6:06, 6:07 and 6:07 for the next 5 miles and that got me right at the turning point where I knew it would be all downhill. Maybe a 1% decline or less, but nevertheless, downhill. At that point I was trying to calculate in my head where I stood and thought maybe about 30 seconds ahead of goal pace.

Once I got headed south and with a runner on my heels, I was able to press the pace and finished up with 5:49, 5:48, 5:46, 5:49, 5:46 and :51 for the last .16 miles for an official final time of 1:18:39. Good enough for 2nd in my age group (40-44) out of 537 and 21st overall out of 9,228 finishers.

The whole race was a picture perfect as I could have hoped for. No issues during the race, some strong competitors to push the pace, great weather with temperature at about 47 to start and not too much wind. I really don't know that I could have squeezed much more out of myself on that day. It was a huge confidence boost 5 weeks out from Boston. While I had previously set my goal at 2:49:59 for Boston, this race gives me hope that I may be able to go as low as 2:46:00 on a perfect day if the next 3 weeks of training and the 2 week taper go well. Feeling really optimistic right now.

I'll ramp the mileage back up for the next two weeks into the 60's and work on endurance while trying to keep the speed sharpened. Hoping to find just the right balance of training so as not to peak too early.

A special thanks to Nick, Sunny and the boys for having me in their home this weekend. I originally had reservations at the Adolphus and I can tell you that their home was every bit as much and more than what I would have expected from a 5 star hotel. Thanks guys! Congrats as well to Nick and my local running partner/coach Popcorn who had great days as well. You guys did awesome!

Finally, a fellow runner died Sunday just after crossing the finish line. 32yr old husband and father of two young girls, Mark Austry. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family and I ask that you take a moment to think of him as well. While I didn't know him, it certainly hits close to home with him being a friend of friends. Truly a sad note to an otherwise fine day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Skinny on "Skinny".

I'm not sure if there's something in the air or what, but I can't tell you how many times this past week I've got to hear about how skinny I am or how much weight I've lost. And all without asking for any one's opinion. I guess it's fine to point out someones change in weight with somewhat of a look of concern, maybe even disgust on your face when the lb's are going down. Just don't mention it to someone with an expanding waistline in the same manner or you may end up getting hurt.

Actually, it doesn't really bother me as this is just one of many choices I have made in attempt to be more competitive in my racing. As my wife Gina explains it, I have brainwashed myself. No desserts, no fried food, no fast food, not drinks other than water, tea, coffee, skim milk, V8's and sports drinks. To be honest, the less "bad" food I eat, the more I thrive on it. This is my 3rd week of no Diet Coke. I quit cold turkey on 2/18 and haven't had a sip since. Before that I was drinking 6-7 cans a day.

It's rather crazy as I think about it as most of my life I have struggled to gain weight. Hours in the gym lifting weights, eating until I literally puked and then eating again. Protein powders, weight gainers, I've done it all. Not anymore. I religiously stand on the scale every morning to monitor my weight. Any fluctuation in the wrong direction gets me to think about what I ate the day before and how I will address my meal plan for the day. As of today I was 159lbs. About 16lbs down from where I was when I started my quest for Boston 2 years ago, but I've been in the 160-165 range the last year and just recently went under 160lbs. The scary thing is that I'm starting to look like a runner.

So what is the skinny on skinny and just how will it affect me? My goal time is 2:49:55 or better for Boston. Based on calculators I use from, the following shows how a few pounds can affect my overall time. Getting down to 155 on race day without sacrificing strength could gain me 3:39, a huge difference in time.

Weight (lbs) Predicted time Time difference

155 lbs....2:46:16.....-3:39
156 lbs....2:47:11.....-2:44
157 lbs....2:48:06.....-1:49
158 lbs....2:49:00....-0:55
159 lbs....2:49:55.....0:00
160 lbs....2:50:49....0:54
161 lbs....2:51:44.....1:49
162 lbs....2:52:38....2:43
163 lbs....2:53:32....3:37

And by the way, where did "the skinny on" originate? Well a quick Google told me it means news, information, gossip. This use of the word is said to have originated in the armed forces in the 1940s and might be jocularly based on 'the naked truth' as in "getting down to the skin" of a story, beneath the flourishes and frippery. Now I know.

So there you have the skinny on "skinny". If you want to get me riled up, tell me I look like I've gained a few pounds the next time you see me.

On a personal note, my last living grandparent passed away this last Saturday. My grandfather on my Dad's side lived to be 100yrs old. His life was an ultramarathon and he ran it as well as anyone could. I'll be running the Dallas Rock 'N' Roll 1/2 Marathon this coming Sunday and I will dedicate this race to him and hope that the strength that carried him through life will be with me for 13.1 miles. This will be a cutback week in terms of mileage to taper for the race. Sunday's performance should give me a good idea of where I stand as far as fitness for Boston.

Last weeks workout:

2/1 - Rest
2/2 - 12.1 Miles MLR
2/3 - 12.4 Mile MLR
2/4 - 9 Mile tempo run on treadmill with 3-8 @ 6:04 pace, 3% decline
2/5 - 6.3 mile Recovery run
2/6 - 16.2 mile LR
2/7 - 6 mile Recovery run

62 Miles Total

Thanks for contributions this week for MCRC! Really appreciate all of you. Take care and have a great week!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust!

Here we are, March 1st already. Another week down, another month down, another one bites the dust. The time seems to be going by faster as we get closer to April. Either that or it just goes by faster as you get older? We celebrated the 5th birthday of our Princess at home this weekend and it's just unreal. At best, I think I've got 4-6 months before our oldest son Corbin is bigger than me at the age of 14.

I'm sort of in that period where I feel like I want to hurry up and be done with the training and get on with the race, but at the same time, I feel like I could use more time just to be safe. It's a feeling that I am more familiar with during each tax season. As big deadlines apporach, I think to myself, "only XX more weeks", but at the same time I'm thinking "only XX more weeks". Too much time, but not enough. This year I thought I would put a self imposed deadline of April 10th for tax filing purposes so as to not be working like mad right up until the day before we leave for Boston, but that may not happen. I'm sure I'll be hammering away up until the 15th.

On a similar note, I registered two weeks ago for the Chicago Marathon wich fall on 10/10/10 this year, 5 days before my biggest tax deadline of the year and even more stressful that April 15th. What in the world where the organizers of these two races thinking when they scheduled these?

A huge thanks goes out to everyone that has shown their support for me in the B2BS Challenge and on my FaceBook page. Some funds started rolling in last week as well and that is awesome. I can honestly tell you that you will all be in my thoughts in Boston and Big Sur pushing me through to the end, especially Big Sur when my body will be screaming at me to stop and my brain will be asking if we hadn't just done this six days ago.

As for this weeks training, here it is:

2/22 - Rest
2/23 - 11 mile Tempo run with 6 in the middle @ 6:31 pace
2/24 - 6.5 mile recovery on TM @ 9:15 pace
2/25 - 6.8 miles with 4/1200m intervals at 5:31 pace
2/25 - 4.8 TM run with hill repeats 10x10 secs @ 12mph @ 12% incline
2/26 - 6.0 easy @ 7:42 pace
2/27 - 20.91 Long run with miles 11-20 @ Goal marathon pace of 6:21
2/28 - 5.0 mile recovery on TM @ 8:48 pace

61.1 Total miles for the week and finished February with 248 miles.

Sunday's long run with the 10 GMP miles gave me some confidence 7 weeks out. The 6:21 was about 4 seconds a mile faster than goal, but I wasn't off by much. I'd rather miss this to the low side than high. They felt pretty good, a bit difficult, but great for my confidence to run those splits deep into the long run.

That's it for now, too much work to do. Take care and I hope everyone has a great week.