Tuesday, February 25, 2014

First Setback of the Current Cycle

I'm tentatively planning to run a marathon either May 3rd or May 4th.  I've been eyeing the Wisconsin Marathon and the Lansing Marathon.  Both have their pros and cons which I'm not going to get into right now.  I haven't registered for either race yet because I've been wanting to make sure that my body felt up to the task.  Its no secret that I had knee problems after the last marathon.  I took time off from running and used other exercises to work on core strength and still get a little cardio in.

My return from injury has been absolutely fantastic so far.  I've been able to ramp up without many issues.  I still get occasional soreness, but it has been manageable. Case in point:  There are still 3 days left in February and I've run 54 more miles this year for the month than last year.  I've also had a 34 mile increase over January of this year.  My pace has been slower, but steady.  I've done absolutely no speed work and that is ok for now.  I wanted to make sure I built up the endurance first.  I think the lack of hard miles has helped me to run consistently.  It's also allowed me to have a run streak that is currently at 38 days.

This past weekend I went to visit family.  This meant a 4.5 hour drive each way.  All that time spent sitting isn't very kind to the body.  My knee aches after my hour commute to and from work.  When I arrived I quickly realized that the outdoor conditions weren't ideal.  Instead of 40 degree temps and rain melting snow, my parents got sleet and snow and streets covered in ice.  I still made a go of my run on Saturday.  I started on the sidewalk but realized the piled up snow on the lawns turned them into canyons full of ice.  I moved to the street where I could dip and dodge and find bare pavement and fewer occurrences of ice, but it was still there.  After jogging back and forth on the main street of the subdivision a few times I decided I gambled enough and wanted to quit while I as ahead.  There was still too much ice plus traffic to deal with and that was a bad combo.  My 7 mile run wound up being just 2 miles.

On Sunday I was supposed to do 15 miles according to my plan.  I knew there was no way I was going to accomplish that outdoors.  I instead tried to use my parents busted up treadmill that ran but didn't have a working display.  It was also next to a litter box used by 3 cats in a dirty basement.  To top things off the treadmill had so much bounce to it I felt like I was on a mini trampoline.  Needless to say I wasn't happy about meaning on it and the bounce made my knee angry.  I eked out 50 minutes which I estimated to be about 5 miles since I had no display.  My weekend ended 15 miles short of the goal.

I thought maybe I could make up the 15 miles on Monday after work.  Nope, that wasn't in the cards.  I got home a little late for it plus I just didn't have the energy for it.  I did a few workout programs on the Xbox and ran my mile instead.  Today I woke up and my legs didn't have the same pep they usually do after a cross training day.  I think I might have over did things and one of the workouts had a lot of lunges and squats.  After work I got on the treadmill anyways with just 4 miles to put in and I threw in the towel at just over 2 miles.  I couldn't coax anything more out of the knee and decided to roll and stretch instead.

It's still over 2 months until either potential marathon so I'm not in any sort of panic mode.  It is just a little frustrating to be doing so well and then go through a rough stretch.  I'll bounce back though.  I've learned what works and what doesn't.  Funny enough it's my right knee bothering me now and not the left that was so troublesome after the marathon.  I think I wasn't very good about doing my rehab exercises on both sides so now I'm paying for it.  There's another lesson learned.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Return to the Lakefront Path

If anyone saw a weather report I definitely didn't head outside for a run today.  It is fun to run in the falling snow, just not in the wind and when the rate of snow is 1-2 inches per hour.  My return to the lakefront path actually occurred yesterday for my weekly long run.

How long has it been since I've been on my normal training grounds?  I had to dig deep to find an answer.  I did a 2 mile loop back on November 3rd while my knee was still giving me issues.  I ran 3 more times outdoors after that before taking nearly a month off from running to rehabilitate the knee and let the broken toe mend.  Those runs were a fun run from Roadrunner Sports, Rock and Roll Half Las Vegas, and November bonus pint night at Fleet Feet Lincoln Square.  I wouldn't run again until I hit the treadmill in the waning days of December.  I did manage to get through a 10K on January 11th along the lakefront path, but that was much further south than my usual stomping grounds between Oak Street and Wilson.

The plan to hit the path was sort of half baked.  I couldn't picture myself doing 14 miles on the treadmill.  I suffered through the 12 mile run I did 2 weeks ago and that was just torture.  I had thought maybe do part of the run outside and part of the run inside and even left my apartment with that being the plan.  I filled the 2 bottles on my water belt with Gatorade since it was about 25 degrees out and water would of just froze in the 2 plus hours the run would take me.  I figured I would loop back to the inner path between Diversey and Fullerton and hit the CARA water fountain that is kept on all winter.  I also brought along an Accel-Gel to try out.

My run started on the inner path near Diversey and headed north to the Belmont underpass where I turned south.  The first part was a little tricky since the path was still quite covered in snow, but I trucked along keeping the strides small.  The actual path was fine until I got south of Fullerton and saw that it was diverted to the upper portion above the ledges.  Everything here was a muddy quagmire and people made a path on the snow to go around it.  So much for the plan to just do loops from Diversey to Castaways and back so I could keep hitting the fountain.  I continued down until I hit Oak Street and turned back.  This is where the wind hit me and things became a struggle.  I've been running for other a month with no wind so I definitely wasn't prepared.  My face numbed and my eyes stung, but I gritted it out.  When I got back to Belmont I turned back to the inner paths to hit the fountain.  I was at 6.65 miles and figured I should just take my gel while I was there.  I liked the Accel-Gel. It tasted alright and went down a lot smoother than Gu normally does for me.  I continued back to Fullerton and onto the path and turned back north.  The wind wasn't as bad north of Belmont which helped me decide to just truck on with the run.  I wound up going a little bit north of Lawrence instead of looping around the Cricket Hill area like I normally do since the paths weren't plowed.  I was at 10.5 miles and turned south and still felt pretty good.  I had enough energy and the legs still felt strong.  I wound up picking up the pace ever so slightly.  I realized I didn't go far enough north and would have to add a little loop to my run to finish at 14 miles so I overshot Belmont by 1/3 of a mile before coming back and heading down the path for the final stretch.  My legs finally started to burn a bit that last mile.  I actually had quite a bit of Gatorade left and only hit the fountain once.  I guess the cold water helped me not need as much hydration.  I even had a negative split by a minute the second half.

It probably wasn't the wisest decision to make my weekly long run my return to the lakefront path.  It was probably crazier still that this was my longest run since the Chicago Marathon.  I got through it though and wasn't too bad today.  My knees were a little sore, but nothing that can't be worked out with some stretching and core exercises.  The one thing I did notice is that my form and cadence seem to be better.  I kept focusing on form and engaging my core muscles better while on the treadmill.  I think the consistent pace of the treadmill helped with my stride cadence.  My final mile with the burning legs was still only 1 second slower than my overall pace for the run.  The overall pace actually surprised me since I didn't feel like I was over exerting myself, yet was faster than the training I've been doing on the treadmill.

Anyone else have experience transitioning from the treadmill back to the streets?  How does your pace differ between the two?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What I Drank Wednesday

Ok so I've been encouraged to blog about my drinking habits and so here it is.  I know Wednesday is almost over, but it ain't midnight yet!

I'm going to cheat and go back to last Wednesday which is what kicked this off.  After work I went on a date with a girl who lives up near where my office is.  We decided to pick a spot halfway to meet and that happened to be Ram Brewery and Restaurant.  I got there a bit earlier than her and grabbed a Blonde Ale.  I went for lowest alcohol content because I didn't know how long I'd be there and I had to drive back home after and don't condone drinking and driving.  That wound up being my only beer that night.  The date was also sort of a bust.  Oh well.

Friday night I went out for a friend's birthday.  Their choice for dinner was Hubbard Inn.  We got their before our reservation and hit the bar.  I started thinks off with a Metropolitan Krankshaft beer. I know its a kolsch and more of a summer beer, but I was trying to ignore the snow that was starting to come down.  After we sat for dinner I switched over to Pilsner Urquell. Dinner was a bison burger and was just so so.  After dinner we went to Bub City since the birthday girl loves her country.  Not me, but I dealt with it and drank lots of Shiner.  After awhile there we headed up to Galway Bay.  I drank a Labatt tallboy... its been awhile since I went Canadian. Galway Bay closed and we headed next door to Yakzies where I finished the night with Bud Light.  Once you reach a certain point its just not worth it to drink good beer anymore.  It marked the 2nd time in a month that I stayed out until the bars closed.  What have I turned into?  I still got up and did my 6 miles on Saturday... just a little later in the day.  Sunday was another 12 miles before I went to a "Big Game" party.

My friends hosted people over for the game on Sunday.  I got there a little bit late so I missed the safety and whatnot.  When I arrived I was immediately offered a beer... Smithwicks, but the label was a bit funny.

My friends had gone off to India and gotten married over there, but still needed to have their American ceremony.  It looks like they picked a date and asked me to be a groomsman.  I gave a tentative yes considering that the wedding is likely to be in Iowa and the Chicago Marathon is the following day.  I guess I should hope that I don't get in the lottery and have to choose another marathon since I've never been a groomsman before.  I also had a Guinness during the game along with the Smithwicks.

So yeah, I drank a bit more than normal this week but didn't try anything new.  I don't know if next Wednesday will be quite as exciting since I don't have plans to go out this weekend.