Monday, June 30, 2014

Marathon Training Week 3

Nothing really exciting to report in this week of training.  My mileage increase a tad and I added a few more reps to my interval workout.  Everything is pretty much going according to plan so far.  I'm even slightly ahead of where my weekly mileage should be according to the Higdon Intermediate plan.  I'm not exactly following that plan, but that's still good to know because I wanted to make sure to build into and spend more time in the 50-60 MPW area this year.

I had a splendid track workout on Wednesday.  I went to meet up with the Redditors again, but only 1 of them was able to make it and he came late.  I did my workout on my own.  It was 400m repeats again and I upped the reps to 10.  I got myself locked into a groove and did 6 of them in 1:42, 1 at 1:43 and 2 at 1:41 and the final rep where I kicked things into gear at 1:38.  I was pleasantly surprised in the consistency I was able to maintain.  It also means my speed from last week wasn't an adrenaline fueled fluke.  If I can keep this up for 800+m intervals I will be extremely happy and feeling good about my time goals.

In other fun news I went to my first baseball game in Milwaukee.  Some of the Wurst runners ever were there as well.  We tailgated with beer and brats of course before heading into the stadium.  I'm impressed with the park, its pretty nice.  Things were looking dicey heading to the game as we encountered very heavy rains, but it turned into a nice, if humid, day.  I also have finally managed to get back to the weight I was at pre-marathon last year.  I had gained about 10 lbs after the marathon and through the holidays as I took a month running break to recuperate from runner's knee.  Getting back down to weight has been a goal all year long and a struggle as well since I haven't had the discipline to eat as healthy as I would like and I'm actually packing on additional muscle since I'm finally incorporating more cross training into my workouts.

Monday - 3.1 miles
Tuesday - 3.37 miles
Wednesday - 6.09 miles - half up, 10x400m at 5K pace, 0.75M down
Thursday - 1.7 miles
Friday - 3.39 miles
Saturday - 4.51 miles tempo
Sunday - 6.2 miles of drunk dodging fun post Pride parade.
Total - 28.4 miles

Monday, June 23, 2014

Marathon Training Week 2

Week 2 of training saw some improvisation and my first speed work of the year.  On Wednesday I headed to the track to join the Redditors for the first time.  They were a friendly group and have their own interval routine.  I probably broke social protocol but ran my own routine instead of theirs.  Everyone has their own methods of training and mine called for 400m repeats.  I only did a 6x400m with 400m recovery since it was my first speed work of the year and also I didn't want to aggravate the tendinitis.  The weekend saw me heading back to Michigan to visit family and juggling runs between wrestling with my nephews and attending a baby shower.

Mon -  3.06 easy miles
Tues - 1.66 run to and from PT
Wed - 0.5 warm up - 6x400m @ slightly faster than 5K pace and 400m recovery - 1 mile cooldown. 4.58 miles total
Thurs - 3.01 easy miles
Friday - 1.52 To and from PT
Saturday - 9 mile noon run - This one wasn't fun, couldn't get my heart rate down.  The boys jumped me as soon as I walked back in completely drenched from my run.
Sunday - Quick 2 since I woke up late and had to attend the baby shower

Total Miles - 24.9

I should of had around 26 or 27 miles this week so I didn't do too bad with the weekend shuffling.  This upcoming week I'm going to up the 400s to 10 and probably need to take my pace down a notch or 2 so I don't spend the next few days with zombie legs.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Marathon Training 2014 Week 1

We are now 17 weeks away from the Chicago Marathon.  That means for most participants that they begun their training schedule this week.  I am among those runners.  The question most people will ask is which plan are you following.  The answer to that is my plan.  I tried to follow Hanson's Marathon Method last year, but failed horribly as I raced too much and struggled to adhere to the strict regiment.  This year I will not be following any particular training plan.  Instead I am borrowing elements from various plans to train how I think will help me the most.

The most important element that I missed last year was mileage volume.  The numerous races meant that I was tapering and recovering quite a bit and just brushed against 50 miles once in the training cycle.  I don't think this was very helpful.  It wasn't until I started running 25-30 miles a week that half marathons became less of a challenge to overcome.  I want to get to 50-60 miles per week training this time with the same thoughts about conquering the marathon.  I also need to get my long runs in since last year my longest training run was 16 miles.  During the marathon I started puttering out at mile 18.  I fully intend to conquer 20 miles twice this cycle to help establish some confidence.  I will be using the Hal Higdon Intermediate plans as a guide for weekly mileage and long runs.  I will probably turn back to the Hanson's guide when it comes to speed work and perhaps even throw in some Yasso 800s at some point.

The other thing that I'm doing differently is that I'm trying to rebuild myself as a runner on the fly.  My injury screening and subsequent therapy sessions have told me that I have bio-mechanical flaws in my running style that will leave me injury prone if I don't adjust. I also have a number of compensatory adjustments that I do mid stride to make up for things like tight hamstrings and hips.  I've been in PT for 2 weeks working on strengthening my weaknesses from the hips on down.  I've also found other exercises and form drills that I've been added to my routine to help strengthen my form and make me a stronger, hopefully injury free runner.

Lastly I'm working on training by effort.  Not all runs should be at the same effort.  According to Ryan Hall - "Most runners run too easy on their fast days and too hard on their slow days."  So with that in mind I have incorporated a heart rate monitor into my running routine.  There are different zones to train in for different workout types.  I've based my zones on what my theoretical maximum heart rate should be, but have not actually tested for my maximum heart rate.  This week has been a struggle to stay within those zones, but as I become accustomed to it, I imagine things will get easier.

Cricket Hill Friday Evening

Monday: 1.69 Miles 8:54 Min/Mile - This was just a jog to my morning PT session and part of the way home after.
Tuesday: 1.03 M 9:43 Min/Mile - Just a streak keeper on the treadmill
Wednesday: 4.03 M 9:19 Min/Mile 163 BPM - First real run of training and first time out with the HRM
Thurs: 1.55 M 9:09 Min/Mile 147 BPM - To PT and back again.  Lower heart rate due to red lights slowing me down
Fri:  5.01 M  8:35 Min/Mile 163 BPM - This was a marathon effort run and I shocked myself at how I was able to keep the heart rate down and the pace up.  I hope this keeps up throughout training.
Sat: 3.03 M 9:39 Min/Mile 155 BPM - This was an easy effort run to try and recover and conserve some energy.
Cross Fit workout HIIT for 45 minutes.  This workout absolutely kicked my butt.
Sun: 8.01 M 10:35 Min/Mile 151 BPM - Nice easy slow effort for my first long run of the cycle.  I could of run faster, but that wasn't the point.  I know my legs will thank me later for doing this.  Keeping the heart rate down became a struggle later in the run as the temps rose and I turned into a headwind for the trip home.
Total Miles: 24.3

Crossfit Gym

So that was week 1 of training.  I'm still beat up and sore from Crossfit, but am otherwise in 1 piece.  The tendinitis I went to PT for didn't even flare up after my long run today.  I also made sure to take a peak at the new track being built over by Montrose and Cricket Hill along the lakefront path.

Can't wait for the track to open

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ragnar Chicago 2014

Where does one start with an event like Ragnar?  It is more adventure than it is race.  Back sometime in the winter I was talked into joining the WRTE by fellow Wurst Running Club Ever members.  I previously had been against ever running Ragnar since the associated costs can be quite high once everything is factored in.  I'm glad I changed my mind though since I had so much fun.

I was part of Van 2 so we didn't have to start running until around 4:30PM on Friday.  We met up at Mo's dad's place on Friday morning to give us plenty of time to drive up, grab lunch, and take care of pre-race activities like the safety briefing, shopping, and decorating the van.  We even had time for some team building with Cards Against Humanity.

I took a lot of pictures at the start, but then became horrible at continuing to take pictures through the rest of the event.  I blame Ragnar Brain.

In case you haven't noticed, I shared a van with 6 girls.  This became an ongoing joke throughout the weekend as I became #andEric or Lone Sausage.  We did actually meet another van that was all girls #andErik.  Soon Van 1 showed up and we hung out for a bit before heading up to the exchange point for our first hand off.  We then got back to the van and headed to the next exchange.  I was runner 8 so I was up next.  I simultaneously navigated and prepared for my run.

Leg 1 -
My first leg was a short one so I didn't really feel many nerves yet.  I knew it would be a quick 2.9 mile jaunt and I'd be done before I knew it.  Mo came in and slapped the bracelet on me and off I went.  I might have been a little too excited since I looked at my watch about 1/4 of a mile in and saw I was running a 6:45 pace.  I slowed down a bit so I wouldn't burn up all my energy with 2 more legs to run.  It was also still pretty warm out.  The latter half of my leg turned into a series of hills culminating into 100 feet of elevation gain.  I also started passing runners, getting kills in Ragnar lingo.  Before the event we were told these were rare so I was pretty excited.  I wound up with 9 kills on this short leg.  I soon wound up at a vineyard where I passed the slap bracelet off to Zoe.  I was given a special Ragnar wine stopper since this was the prize leg of the race.

I had plenty of time until the next leg so I chilled in the van and cheered on my fellow teammates.  We finally finished up our legs and passed the bracelet back to Van 1.  We went to get some Noodles and Co to find that it was closed.  We wound up with McDonalds instead.  Between this and the meat lovers pizza I had at lunch earlier I definitely made some bad food choices.  We drove to the next exchange point to wait for Van 1 and get some rest.  I couldn't sleep so I read some Harry Potter on my kindle before trying to at least shut my eyes for a little bit.

Leg 2 -
My second leg was in the middle of the night.  Things had cooled considerably and I could see my breath as I ran.  I wore a headlamp for the first time ever and it created an eerie effect with my breath floating up.  I struggled a little bit at first to get loose on the run, but once I did I started flying since the weather was perfect.  This leg was supposed to be 5.1 miles and was run down the shoulder of several roads.  I was shocked to see the 1 mile to go sign when my GPS showed 3.8 miles.  The leg wound up being short at 4.85 miles.  This was a little sad since I was having so much fun running at night and wished this was my longest leg.

We finished our leg 2s around 5:45 on Lake Michigan.  By this time my stomach was turning into knots from bad food choices and lack of sleep.  I used the facilities at Panera (Yay flush toilet!) and then slowly ate a bagel to get something into my system to get me through my final leg.  We made our way to North Chicago High School for the last major exchange.  We had quite a bit of time until Van 1 was to arrive so we camped out under a tree to get some rest.  I finally got about an hour of restless sleep, but it was enough to help settle the stomach enough so I could run.

Leg 3 -
My third leg started a bit after noon.  It was a 5.3 mile run on trails with no shade and lots of sun.  I quickly realized that this was going to be a tough one.  My legs were pretty tired by this point and I was feeling the effects of being a little bit dehydrated.  I slowed way down compared to the first 2 legs, but was only a little bit slower than my estimated pace.  I ran the first 2 legs way ahead of pace.  It soon became evident that I wasn't the only one struggling on this leg.  I wound up passing 15 other runners, many of whom had started to walk.  I was too stubborn to start walking, but did slow down.  All I wanted when I finished was to get back in the van and sit in front of the AC.

The rest of my team mates faced similar struggles with the heat and we all slowed down.  We had moved way ahead of predicted pace as a team for the first 2 legs so this wasn't a big deal.  We told Lindsay, our final runner, to take her time with her last leg.  Even though it was 9.6 miles, we needed enough time to drive into Chicago, park the van, and take a shuttle to the finish line.  We made it with about 15 minutes to spare.  As Lindsay came in towards the finish we tried to signal her to slow down so we could run across as a team, but she didn't seem to understand and so we scrambled to keep up with her across the finish.  We took some pictures and I found Jennifer volunteering at a tent near the finish line.  Soon the team scattered to get beer and pizza or head home.

I couldn't bring myself to go into the beer tent to get my free drink.  I was beat up physically and mentally after having run more than I slept over 2 days.  We grabbed the pizza and found a table to relax at.  After a bit we all realized we were done so we headed back to the van to pack up and clean it off before parting ways.

I really enjoyed myself running Ragnar.  Some of my team mates are now trying to push me to run the Keys in February, which I think I would love to do if I can somehow figure out how to make it work considering I'm going to make my wallet scream with my expenses for NYC Marathon, RnR Vegas Half, and Dopey Challenge at Disney.  Even though I was in a van with 6 girls it never really seemed all the awkward.  We got along pretty well and developed a ton of inside jokes that I'm sure will be repeated for years.  I think we even came up with a van name for next year - #MeatSweets #AndEric

My van mates and I
From Left:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Injury Screening and PT

I've been experiencing pain in the inner portion of my right shin since early April.  I first wrote it off as my body trying to adjust to being back on the trails instead of the treadmill.  I learned some self-massage techniques and it slowly improved and became manageable.  During the Ravenswood 5K my right ankle started to burn like crazy.  I've had ankle problems on and off since I sprained it 2 years ago and never let it heal properly.  I finally said enough was enough and wanted to get everything checked out and dealt with before marathon training got underway.

I made a call into Athletico and took advantage of the free injury screening that they offer.  I wasn't expecting a whole lot since I previously had a PT check out my knee last fall after a race and she spent 5 minutes going over it before telling me I had PFS.  I was completely blown away by the experience and glad I made the call.  I originally had an appointment for the week after Memorial Day, but they called me up and let me know they had a cancellation for the same time slot a week earlier and asked if I wanted to take it, so I said sure, the earlier the better.

After a bit of paperwork I was finally seen by Kathy.  She took me to the other side of their center where they had what looked like an army hospital set up of doctor's beds.  She asked me some questions and then had me take my shoes and socks off and started examining me.  She confirmed the tenderness of the post-tibial tendon which meant a strain or tendonitis.  The post-tibial tendon runs from the fascia in the bottom of the heel up into the calf and can cause symptoms similar to shin splits.  She also took a good look at my feet and told me I had a fallen arch which would cause excessive pronation where the post-tibial tendon comes into play to try and stabilize the leg when that happens.  So not only did she diagnose the injury, she figured out the root cause.  She spent almost and hour going over my feet and legs and then showed me some exercises I could do to hold me over until I could see a doctor and get a formal prescription for physical therapy.  She even recommended a doctor that was in network for me to go see.

I did see the doctor the following week and finally had my first physical therapy session today where Kathy re-examined me and did strength and flexibility tests all over my lower half to see what else may be going on.  She also had me jump on the treadmill to do a little stride analysis.  Once all was said and done I came out with a laundry list of issues that makes it sound like I've been beat up, yet here I am still running.

The list of issues:
Post-Tibial Tendonitis in right leg
Fallen arch in right foot
Early signs of bunion in right big toe (X-Ray confirmed early signs of degenerative disease)
Tight right heel
Tight calves/achilles
Right foot has limited range of motion compared to left
65% flexibility of hamstrings
Tight IT bands on both sides
Tight right hip flexor
While running my left leg serves like a pivot while right leg swings around instead of moving perfectly straight.

I now have diagrams of exercises and stretches to start working on all these issues.  Session #2 is on Thursday.  The PT knows I'm starting marathon training so she really wants to help me work out as much as possible this month.  If I've been running all this time with these issues, it makes me wonder how much I could improve if I got myself to 100% health.

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014 Run For the Zoo 10K

The United Run for the Zoo 10K is one of Jennifer's favorite races.  It's in the neighborhood and easy to get to.  This means I'm pretty much obligated to sign up for the race.  The 2014 edition was my 3rd time running this race as well as the 3rd different route for the course.  Various construction projects over the last few years have meant that the course has not stayed consistent.

I opted to pick up my packet on Friday evening.  I altered my usual running route to finish at the zoo and was able to pick up the packet early Friday evening.  As I left the cafe with my packet I noticed that the African Wild Dogs were going nuts.  They were running around their enclosure like crazy.  I soon figured out why when they suddenly disappeared - it was dinner time.  I then proceeded to enjoy a leisurely stroll the remaining 3/4 of a mile home.

Moved too fast to get a front shot.

On race day I awoke to find that things were already getting warm.  I walked down to the zoo and found Jennifer near gear check and waited for Chris.  Soon we headed to the starting line.  It was already warm, sunny, and humid.  I broke a sweat just waiting to start the race.  I never really had any intention to run for time.  I'm not in any sort of conditioning to go all out for a 10K.  I figured I'd do a tempo run and use it to help re-build my speed conditioning.  Soon we were off and running and of course I started too fast.

The first part of the course ran up Cannon drive to Diversey which was wide enough to accommodate the early race crowds.  We soon went under the path at Diversey Harbor and onto the Lakefront Path.  This underpass was narrow and not conducive to racing, but I didn't experience any full stops like Jennifer did.  We ran north along the harbor to just shy of the Waveland tennis courts before turning back south along the main path.  We then came back through the other side of the Diversey Harbor underpass and ran along the inner trails back down to Fullerton and down south to the baseball fields before curling back into the zoo for the final stretch.  There were quite a few turns in the race and it seems like they made the effort to incorporate what little hills we do have along the lakefront into the course.

The race went relatively according to plan for me.  I did start a bit fast and briefly flirted with the idea of actually running for time, but then remembered that it was a bit toasty out and backed off the pace.  I kept my split times relatively close in the low 8s the rest of the way.  I did have a slow last mile because I had tried to take water on the run, and I'm not very good at it yet, and wound up choking when the water went down the wrong pipe.  I wound up stopping and gagging before gathering my composure and continuing on with the race.  My body was a little out of sync for the next half mile before I recovered and finished strong.

I wound up finishing with my 4th best 10K time ever.  This should be taken with a grain of salt since I've only ever run 7 total 10K races.  It was 4 minutes slower than my PR, but that was on a rainy mid 50s day and not a sunny 80s day like this race was.  I'm happy with the result and it gives me something to build on as I slowly return to racing form.

Next up:  Ragnar Madison to Chicago!