Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Long Run…

Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon continues. Race day is coming on fast.

As usual, I am going to be undertrained for my spring marathon. The winter cobwebs are lingering. I have three weekends left of hard training before I start to taper. Last week, I ran 15 miles. Yesterday’s goal was 18 (I ran 18.5 miles) then I will increase to 21 and 24 miles over the final two weeks. The week after that, I have the “Hot Chocolate” 15k, followed by a light taper week and then race day.

Yesterday was cool, windy but sunny. Temps were about 40F but the wind made it feel a lot colder. I layered up.

There was no time goal…just wanted to get the miles in. I loaded up the i-pod with some new music and headed out the door.

The details are boring, so I won’t go into those here. But there are a few points I want to make…

1) My foot and ankle didn’t hurt. This was a plesant surprise. Usually I am dealing with this in the first hundred yards or so…

2) I didn’t hurt. Well, not for awhile. Lap 6 (miles 15.5-18.5) saw my legs stiffening up and cramping up. But the first 15 miles were fairly comfortable.

3) I enjoyed myself a little bit more then I had in recent past. The layering was close to perfect, so I was not feeling the wind nor was I overheating (for the most part). This did make the whole thing more enjoyable.

4) It still felt like a chore. 3+ hours in the middle of my Saturday afternoon. I had to push myself out the front door. I definately don’t have my running mojo so far this season. Maybe the actual marathon will bring that excitement back to me. But I still know that this will be my last marathon “season”. I might sign up for one fall marathon next year, but even that is up in the air. I think shorter events gives me the right life balence and I enjoy them more. I think I would have gotten just as much health benefits in going for a 1.5 hour run as a 3.5 hour run and I would have enjoyed it more/dreaded it less.

5) 144 lb this morning on the scale. That is the first time I have seen anything under 145 lb since before my Ironman…

 

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Return To Elm Creek…

Over six months have past.

Elm Creek Park Reserve.

Home of the 15 mile and 28 mile bike trails that were my bike training hub for the past 3 years of Ironman competition.

It was cold today. The mercury was in the mid thirties. The winds made it even more painful.

My last ride here was late August. My Ironman journey was about to come to a close. So was my cycling season. Less then two weeks later, my bike was in the basement…and there it had stayed. It was to get regular use over the winter on the trainer. That never happened.

Last year, the snows were heavy…and they lingered. I needed an early to start bike training, but it was impossible. We finally saw a brief warmup in late April and I eagerly got my bike ready and on the trails…only to be turned back. At every turn, there was still packed snow along the wooded trail. Training had to wait.

Today, there was no bike, no running shoes, and no plan.

I was just driving by…and I wanted to see.

The cycling season would be very different this year. It will likely be my lightest season since I purchased my bicycle.

2012 saw my first half-Ironman. My odometer rolled over the 1000 mile mark as the snow was starting to come down.

2013 saw 3 half-Ironman’s…starting in early June. I was frustrated by a late training start with such an early season long race. I finished the year with 1250 miles.

2014 saw an early season sprint triathlon and another late start to the training cycle. It also saw a late April attempt at a century ride…which dwindled to a mere 27 miles with tempuratures in the high 30’s, sustained winds averaging 21 mph, sleet, torrential rains, frostnip, and hypothermia. It was the year of the Ironman. I completed six century rides that season (four in Elm Creek) on my way to 3000+ cycling miles.

2015 will be different. Very, very different.

I may not see 500 miles.

My first event of the year is in mid-July. My finale is in late August. Five events (4 in 16 days) and every one of them will be a sprint. The longest I will ride in competition will be 16 miles.

I knew last year that my 6-8 hour riding days were behind me. But I expected to be registerd for a 70.3 (56 mile ride) and an Olympic triathlon (25 mile ride) but that never materialized, and I am grateful. No, my rides do not even have to start until June…and will be 1-2 hours long instead of my predicted 3-4. I might be out here in May (or maybe April) when we see the first gloriously warm spring day…and I get a sudden desire to get out here and just enjoy.

Today is not that day. I am in street clothes on a cold and bitterly windy spring day that winter does not want to abandon quite yet. I am doing recon. A short quarter mile walk. I am alone here, not a soul to be found…

The paths are clear. There is no snow in sight.

I will return soon enough, with my bike and the anticipation of a new season. The rides will be shorter and more fun. I hope to learn to love cycling again.

I today, I knew that the trails were clear, and I leave with the knowledge they will be ready for my return…

 

 

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Further Reflections on my Racing Future…

I recently posted that I am getting physically worn out and mentally burnt out on running. This year has five marathons and one ultra on the schedule and I have little motivation to train for any of it. My ankle problem is acting up, and I just feel generally beat up. This will be my “farewell” marathon season.

I have had a lot of time to reflect on those thoughts. I think I have a better handle on it now.

The ever increasing marathon schedule was burning me out. The marathons stopped being special achievements, but expensive chores. My ankle issues are becoming more constant, and I know that I need to take care of myself or my long term ability to run will be cut short.

Being prepared to run marathons year round just isn’t fun anymore. It is also not needed for me to stay healthy.

Last year’s Ironman goal captured my imagination and propelled me to train like I never had before. Having completed one, I doubt that signing up for another would motivate me like the first one did. I would likely not be successful at it the second time around.

So, where does that leave me. Well, I think that I have (mostly) figured that out…

1) The remaining 2015 racing season will continue as planned (for now). Hopefully, knowing that this is the final year at this level of insanity, I will be able to stay motivated. Knowing that I am getting closer to my “final” marathon may make each one special again. I may get injured or get so burnt out that I won’t complete the season, but I intend to finish what I have planned…and get one ultra in the books before I am done. Knowing that there is “only” seven more months should help…

2) Full Ironman. Said it before, and I will keep repeating it. Never again. It was a wonderful day and I have cherished memories. I have learned from marathons that you never get the same excitement as the first time, and I want to save this as a unique event. I could never, ever, put myself through that training again.

3) Ironman 70.3: Likely never again (certainly not in the foreseeable future). This surprized me. With five completed races, I thought that I would continue racing this distance. I was supposed to do the Rev 3 Wisconsin Dells 70.3 this year…but it got canceled. Ironman had a rumored St Louis 70.3 race…but it never materialized. Challenge Family has one at Cedar Point, but I couldn’t make the schedule work. I feel so relieved that it didn’t work out this season. The thought of cross training for that distance is just overwhelming right now. I just feel that my Ironman journey is complete. I have reaped what I needed and the page has been turned. I am very comfortable with that chapter of my life as it stands, and that it is behind me.

4) Sprint and Olympic Triathlons: I will definately continue doing these. I have completed five to date with four on the schedule for this season. It motivates me to cross train, but to a degree that I can consider fun and enjoyable. There are a lot of great local events, so I avoid the “time suck” and expense of traveling. Triathelon season in this area is very brief and in mid-summer, so it provides a nice physical and mental break from all the spring and fall running.

5) Century rides: Never again. I have done 10 (6 solo, 3 large organized rides, and Ironman Wisconsin). These killed any love I could have develloped for cycling. 7+ hours on the bike just isn’t pleasant? I have completed the Tour de Tonka 100 mile ride yearly for the past 3 years. I might do a shorter ride this year, or I might just sit on the deck that day. Hopefully, shorter riding will allow me to enjoy the journey, instead of just racking on miles.

6) Marathons. This is the tricky one. Part of me loves the spectacle of this event. The big expo, the anticipation, the thousands of runners and tens of thousands of spectators. But I was never really good at it. Compared to my other running PRs, my marathon finish times were very poor. I always hit the wall and do not enjoy the second half. Running so many robbed it of its special status. Traveling for different events have cost a lot of time and money, and they just all kindof blur together. I just don’t know if this is a permanent goodbye or not…but I suspect that it is not.

What I am done with are these big multi-marathon seasons. I don’t want to be looking past my current marathon to the next and the one after that. Including my Ironman run, I have completed 10 marathons with 5 more (including the ultra) on the schedule for 2015. I will put no pressure on myself that I “must” run a marathon in any given year. Instead, I will sign up for one if I am physically healthy and mentally up for the challenge. If the drive is there, I will go for it. If it isn’t then I won’t.

I have a lot of marathons in my mental “parking lot”. Events that I “knew” that I would get to eventually. I have mostly emptied this parking lot. If I will ever do another marathon, it will be during the fall. I have no enjoyment in winter training. In the winter, I cut down, stay indoors and like to cross train. Spring marathons have never worked out for me, so I won’t even consider them in the future. Right there, a ton of marathons just disappeared from my calendar (Toronto Goodlife, Los Angeles, Fargo, Little Rock, Big Sur, etc). I can make a decision in the spring, train in the summer, and race in the fall (as the finale of that season). So, any marathon that I will likely consider would be between September and January (and, since my local Twin Cities Marathon is beautiful and in October, I will always have that option). If I do another, I would likely want it to be a big destination race. I would like to run a marathon major. I will never qualify for Boston. New York is an extreme longshot. Chicago is in driving distance and has reasonable odds via lottery. If I get the urge, this would likely be the event. Marine Corps Marathon is another reasonable odds lottery in the fall, and NYC is a longshot fall lottery. I could simply put my name in the lottery and let fate decide. Also, part of me would want my “final” marathon to be something big and special. I am sure Des Moines is nice, but I think it will be anticlimactic if I end it there. Don’t misunderstand me, I may never run another marathon. I will have to see if I get the desire to run another in the future. If I do, Chicago is the only one that is still in my mental “parking lot”.

7) Disney. I always planned to do the Dopey Challenge in 2018 (25th anniversary of the marathon and 5k, 5th anniversary of Dopey…5k/10k/HM/Marathon in 4 days). This no longer on the radar. I loved my two Disney races, but I have experienced them and don’t have a strong desire to revisit them. Also, training for the back to back long races is what led to my initial injury. Add in the time and expense, and it just isn’t worth it for me.

That said, I am a Star Wars geek, and the DL Star Wars Half Marathon is calling my name. That and Chicago are the only two destination races on my radar. Still tough to justify the expense. I will need to clear it with my wife (and faithful blog reader)… ūüėČ

8) Local Races and Series. I am done with the Team Ortho series after this year. The events and courses (and swag) are the same every year. They also screw up every single event. It will be odd not starting the year with the Get Lucky HM and finishing the season with the Monster Dash…but I think I will survive. I will try the MN running series next year instead (a 10 miler in March, HM in April, May, July, and a 10k in November). Great bling, local, cheap. I will also do the Lifetime Triathlons that are local (Maple Grove, Minneapolis), and will likely enroll in the Twins Cities “Loony Challenge” every year. The Loony is a 5k/10k/10 mile combo during Twin Cities marathon weekend. My company has a corporate team and it allows me to participate in the biggest running weekend of the year in Minneapolis without actually running the marathon. I really don’t think that I could sit out the first weekend in October…

9) Shorter races (1 mile to Half Marathon). This will be the heart of my running future after this year. It is enough to maintain fitness. It is easier to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle without overwhelming the rest of my home and work life. I am much stronger at these events. If I mostly focus on these (instead of doin a hodgepodge of everything) I may get pretty good at those distances. They are cheaper, local, and much easier to train for. I can likely continue these indefinitely without much risk of injury.

Of course, as always, this is subject to change…

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The Rapid Mileage Ramp Up For My Spring Marathon

Some runners run diligently throughout the winter…training hard for their spring marathon. They run through polar vortexes, mountains of snow and sheets of ice just to be well trained and properly prepared for their event.

I am not one of those runner.

After sustaining a near season-ending ankle injury training for the Goofy Challenge a few years back, I have limited my winter running to indoor track or treadmill.

Of course, I can only handle 30 minutes (occasionally 60 minutes) of such tedious and mind-numbing boredom.

So, I call it my off-season…which is much needed and quite rejuvenating.

I also naively sign up for a spring marathon?..and I wallow through my off-season.

When spring hits, I look at the race calendar and start to panic at just how quickly my spring marathon is coming up.

Every. Damn. Year.

Last weekend, I did my season opening Half-Marathon. It was a satisfactory 1:59 performance. Far from my 1:44 PR, but better then previous year opening HM performances.

But, the Pittsburgh Marathon looms ahead of me, and closer then I thought.

So, I started my “Half-assed/half-panic rapid ramp up to an undertrained Marathon/Death March training plan”.

My neighborhood is compact and offers a 3 mile loop. My usual “I am not actively training” long run is 5 loops (15 miles). When training, I start adding 1 loop/week until I get to 8 loops (24 miles) and keep doing that until I taper.

Yesterday, I did my first 5 looper of the year.

Damn, that hurt (and I was darn slow too).

Looking at the calendar, I will have time to get up to 24 miles one time before I start to taper (first week of the taper will bring the Hot Chocolate 15k). After the marathon, I will do one further 24 miler a couple of weeks later before running the Minneapolis Half Marathon the week before my one and only Ultramarathon.

With the ultra behind me, I will start triathlon training (well, will start that during marathon taper). This will not be too stressful since all of my triathlons will be sprints this year (1/4 swim, 15 mile bike). I just need to get comfortable swimming and riding again. During tri-season, I will try to maintain the 5 loop (15 mile) long run weekly (to have a more solid base) until I start my ramp up for the October Marathon Mayhem…3 marathons in 16 days (Twin Cities, Kansas City and DesMoines) the last two are on the same weekend.

After that, my marathon career will be over. I am surprisingly at peace with this decision. I want health and fitness to be a part of my healthy lifestyle, not to overwhelm it. I am hoping that, knowing that these are my last few marathons, that I will enjoy them more instead of viewing each as just another generic race. Unfortunately, I was still just going through the motions yesterday and I was feeling like training was a chore or burden. Hopefully that will change as the weather warms and race day approaches…

 

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Do I Really Want To Keep Running?

I never expected type those words…

For the last three years, I have been on this runaway train called “Ironman-Wisconsin”. My life revolved around it, and it was an obsession. The number of training hours that I was able to put in amazes me to this day.

I expected a post IM letdown, and it happened. I was worried that I would land on the couch and stay there, so I lined up a few events (including 2 marathons) for the months immeidiately following my big race. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about these (I assumed that I was just tired at the end of a long season). I then hit my offseason and recharged my batteries.

This past week, spring arrived, along with my first race of the year.

This is usually the happiest time of the year for runners. A chance to get off the treadmill and leave the YakTraks behind. I got out for a few runs and my half marathon.

I wasn’t feeling it.

The race (which I have done for the last three years) was a chore. Getting up early, getting my stuff together, driving an hour to the race site, dealing with parking, and finding my way to the start line were just hassles that I didn’t want to deal with. I went through the motions during the race (and I got a decent finish time) but felt neither the pre-race anticipation or the post-race sense of accomplishment. It was simply a chore that took up half of my day.

The neighborhood runs felt like chores as well. I am doing them since I have a marathon on the horizon, and I NEED to ramp up the long run. I found myself procrastinating on getting out there (used to be the highlight of my day).

To add to this, my Posterior Tibial Tendinosis had briefly flared up. Not bad, but a reminder that it is still there and will always be an issue for me.

So, I started wondering WHY I was doing this.

Short answer (and not entirely true) is that I am doing it to maintain health and fitness. This is important to me. But I don’t need to do 3+ hour long runs every week to be healthy. I run races for two reasons. First as motivation for keeping up with my fitness (having an upcoming race keeps me going out for my runs, even when I am lacking some motivation). Second, it is to prove to myself that I can accomplish amazing feats (such as an Ironman) when I have always viewed myself as sedentary and non-athletic. Well, I have raced enough that the second point isn’t motivating me anymore.

Over the past 3 years, I have completed the following:

-1 Ironman Triathlon

-5 Half Ironman Triathlons

-11 Triathlons (including the above)

-10 Marathons

-20 Half Marathons

-10 Century Rides

…and too many short races to count.

Having a race on the calendar just isn’t that compelling anymore.

I had already decided against doing another Ironman Triathlon (or century ride) ever again. Too much training and just too time consuming. I am reading the posts on various IM Facebook pages and training blogs, and I am really happy that I am not going through that right now. I had wanted a Half Ironman on this year’s schedule, but the Rev 3-Wisconsin Dells was canceled, and the rumored Ironman 70.3 St Louis never materialized. I am actually relieved to not have it on the calendar. I can’t imaging myself training for this again, and the traveling involved just seems like a pain in the ass. The more I think about it, the less I want to do another.

I am also beginning to feel this way about marathon running. The thought of ramping up my long run is unpleasant right now. I had previously blogged about decreasing the number of marathons I compete in, and I blogged about my frustrations at my ongoing poor performance at full distance marathons. I guess I need to admit to myself that I really just don’t enjoy marathon running…or the training involved. I enjoy the spectacle of the marathon…the expo, the build up, the bling…but not the training or the race. Not anymore. And the expo and build up have become rather dull for me as well. After doing so many, it becomes bland and routine.

So, where does this leave me. Well, I am still struggling to figure out how to balence running and fitness into my life. I am trying to sort out how to make it permanent and to achieve balence. I am better at shorter events, and I enjoy the training level that goes into those types of events. I am also tired of competing in so many events, and of traveling for them.

I feel that the time has come for me to walk away from the marathon. I also doubt that I will participate in another 70.3 again. At least, not in the foreseeable future.

So, what does this mean for my jam packed 2015 season? I will run it as planned. I will think of it as a farewell tour of sorts…one that has a light at the end of the tunnel. I still want to check off the Ultramarathon box from the bucket list. But I have five marathons left this year (Pittsburgh, FANS Ultra, Twin Cities, Kansas City, Des Moines) and I think I can handle (and enjoy) them if I know that will be the end of the line for marathons. It will result in 15 total marathons in 10 states for my marathon “career” (not bad for someone who could never imagine completing just one of these).

What does that mean for 2016? Well, fewer events for starters. Enough to keep me motivated to run, but not so many that I have perpetual burnout. Second, probably no marathons. I really can’t see myself finishing my marathon days in Des Moines. Someday, I may want to do a marathon major (likely Chicago, but New York and Boston would be great too). Two of the three are lotteries, the third would have to be via charity. I may toss my name is the hat for Chicago 2016 and late the fates decide…or wait until 2017 and keep 2016 marathon-free. I will likely sign up for the MN Running Series for some Half Marathons locally. Probably a couple of local sprint triathlons to keep some cross training in the mix. The season will likely culminate with the Twin Cities Loony Challenge as part of the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend (5k/10k/10 mile…not the marathon). Out of town traveling will be much more limited…perhaps none if I don’t do a lottery.

There are a few other events that are still tickling the back of my brain. Toronto is a maybe someday. It is a virtual home town for me, so it would be more fun then a random destination (ie: Cincinatti, Houston, or Tulsa), and I have a friend there that I would love to run with someday. Some Disney events still intrigue me just because they are so much fun. As a Star Wars geek, the DisneyLand/Star Wars Half Marathon sounds amazing. The Dopey Challenge in 2018 also sounds like an amazing weekend (25th anniversary of the WDW marathon, 25th anniversary of the 5k fun run, 5th anniversary of the Dopey Challenge). I might be able to justify the expense if I am not traveling all over the country for miscellaneous other events every few months.

And, of course, I reserve the right to return to marathon running or 70.3’s At some point ¬†in the future. After several years away from those events, I may find a rekindled fire to prove myself again at those events. But, for now, I will view 2015 will be my “farewell marathon tour”…

 

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145

My journey started with weight loss. I lost over 50 lbs before I ever started to exercise. I took up running as a way to help maintain my weight loss.

I also maintained my weight by exercising portion control and avoiding some not-so-healthy choices (drive-thru, French fries, DQ Blizzards, etc).

I anticipated that this would be a problem post Ironman. My caloric intake skyrocked when I was training 20+ hours/week. A lot of that was consumed during my workouts (Gatorade, GU, Cliff Bars), but portion sizes got much bigger, and so did my appetite. I was grazing a lot more (out of genuine hunger). My weight stayed steady, but I became leaner with more muscle mass…so I knew my caloric intake was what I needed (probably about 4000 calories/day).

I knew this would be a problem after my Ironman since my workouts would radically decrease, but I had resumed many of the habits that got me into trouble in the first place.

I went into IM Wisconsin at 147 lbs (2 lbs greater then what I consider to be my ideal weight). A body composition analysis pre-race put my % body fat at 5% and visceral fat at 3% – Iwas “underfat”. That was a term I had never heard before (and, since I was obese in 2011, I never thought that such a term would apply to me).

Since my race, I never got my weight back down. I was starving after what I used to consider to be a normal sized meal. I was boredom eating again. I had 2 marathons on the schedule in the months following my IM, so I was still running, but training volumes were way down. My weight kept creeping up. It reached 151.5 lbs a couple of times. I consider 150 lbs a “panic” weight and an alarm goes off that I need to change things right away.

Slowly, I have been chipping away at it. I weigh myself every day. Ideal is 145 +/- 2 lbs (there will always be about a 2 lbs variation in my weight for fluids) but the weight should hover around 145 and that should be the number I see most of the time.

I haven’t seen that number in 6 months. Not since before my Ironman.

It was the number that I saw yesterday.

This morning, I am back at 146.5 lbs. but 145 lbs is now within the range of normal weight fluctuations. I probably have 2 more lbs of fat to lose before 145 becomes the standard. With marathon training ramping up, I should be able to achieve that before I line up in Pittsburgh.

I kept the winter weight creep down and to a couple of pounds. Overall, I consider that to be a pretty successful off-season…

 

 

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The Run After The Long Run…

It’s been awhile…

Last year, back to back long runs were common. When I was peak training, I was running 10k every day as my short run, with a medium run (12-15 miles) and a long run (20+ miles) every week. My total weekly miles are way down and my “long” runs are nonexistent. A 15 mile long run used to be¬†the weekly norm when I was not training for any specific event.

As I said, it has been awhile.

My “long” run yesterday was a half marathon. I did decent time for the shape I am in. I followed that up today with a 10k training run. I had forgotten how stiff the muscles can get the day after the run…especially if they aren’t used to it. I again maintained a decent training pace, but I was fading by mile five.

Gotta shake out the cobwebs and get to work. Weekly mileage and the long run have to improve and quickly. Seven weeks until my next marathon. Twelve weeks until my ultra.

Time is getting short. The off season is officially over…

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Race Report: Get Lucky Half Marathon

March 14, 2015

For the fourth straight year, the Get Lucky is my season opener, although I probably should view more as spring training. It is my first race of the season and I use it to clean out the cobwebs that formed over the winter.

In 2012, the 7k was my first ever race. The weather was beautiful (high 70’s) and it was the start of a wonderful adventure.

In 2013 and 2014, I entered the Half Marathon. I was undertrained both times. The weather was cold and the roads were still icy. I was just coming off my winter hibernation and the results reflected that. These races were basically my first long training runs of the season. They served to give me enthusiasm for the upcoming year and a much needed wake up call.

2015 was similar to the past 2 year. I had done very little running in the past 2 months (since the Houston Marathon) except for 5k treadmill runs. This would give me a clear picture about how rusty and out of shape I truly was. My ankle problem had also flaired up recently (posterior tibial tendinosis), and I agrevated it further by doing some sloppy outdoor running in a pair of shoes that was literally falling apart.

This race is a Team¬†Ortho event, which means “train wreck” and they didn’t disappoint. They sent out an e-mail the day before the race stating that they did not receive their shipment of finishers medals (due to a strike at some boatyards on the West Coast) and that they would be mailed to us at a later date. However, I just saw photos of the finishers at the larger 7k event (10,000 finishers) with their finishers medals. Only the 1200 HM finishers didn’t receive their medals. Team Ortho is notorious for over selling an event, even if they have no plan to accommodate the number of runners that have signed up, I suspect that this is what happened…they under-ordered the medals. Nice job Team Ortho!¬†Considering how consistantly they screw up, I think this will be the final season that I will run their events…

For the actual race, the weather was nice. Clear blue sky but rather chilly in the morning (37 degrees at race start, below freezing when I left home). Even though it would warm up, I did end up wearing tights, a long sleeved thermal T, a light jacket an thin gloves. The course was one of the most used routes in the area… a flat wide highway by the Mississippi River. ¬†Despite the location, it is more functional then scenic, and I have lost track of how often I have run this specific stretch of concrete. It was a basic out and back course.

I didn’t know what to expect from my legs today. Definately not a PR (I would need to go sub 1:44 for that which would not happen). My ankle problems and lack of training would be the issues. I tentatively lined up with the 2:00 pace group.

Shortly after the start, I ended up leaving my pace group behind. I was surprized by my pace, but did not feel confident that I could maintain it. I ditched the gloves by mile 2. I found myself overheating early, but this sense would disappear as soon as we caught a breeze. By the turnaround, I found my pace slowing a bit. I watched for my pace group as I was returning…still had a gap on them. By mile eleven, I could feel my ankle (nothing bad, but it was getting sore). My pace slowed a little more. Goal was to keep it under 2 hours….which I did.

Finish Time – 1:59:02.

Sub 2 hours is always a good result for me on a HM. Considering that I was undertrained, I was pleased. My legs were shot by the finish line, and I have work to do with an upcoming Full Marathon on May 3rd (Pittsburgh). Gotta ramp up the weakly mileage and weekly long run.

I also felt somewhat indifferent about the whole experience. It was rather mundane. I feel like I just called it in today. I certainly had no butterflies or pre-race excitement that I typically have. I think that I may be getting burnt out on the whole running experience. It feels like a chore instead of something that I truly enjoy. Hopefully, the Pittsburgh Marathon in May and the FANS ultra in June will snap me out of this funk. I think that I have been over-training and over-racing for 3 years now and that it has become dull and routine. Driving out to these local events is a hassle. I have a lot of events planned for this season, and this may be a farewell tour of sorts for me. I’ll keep running after this season (mostly for health and fitness), but will want more balence. There will be far fewer marathons next year, and likely far fewer events overall. I will have to give this some serious thought as the season progresses…

 

 

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…and the foot/ankle problems return.

While training for the 2013 Goofy Challenge, I develloped pain in my foot and ankle. It was diagnosed as Posterior Tibial Tendinosis. The tendon was inflamed and shreading inside a tendon sheath.

My podiatrist made a few things clear. 1) the tendon will not heal-the inflammation will go down, but the fraying is permanent. 2) the goal is to not make it any worse. 3) running will make it worse.

By some miracle, it got better, but only after being sidelined for months and almost losing the entire 2013 season. Part of me knows that I am running on borrowed time (that is part of the reason that I pushed myself so hard to complete Ironman Wisconsin in 2014 instead of waiting for 2015).

Last week, I felt some discomfort after a treadmill run. I felt it more during a 15k outdoor run on Saturday. It cut short my run yesterday. I am taking today off. It feels the same as 2013.

My first race of the year is next weekend…a half marathon (which I was looking to as a simple training run). Then I have a 15k in April, leading to a full marathon in early May, a half marathon late May followed by an Ultramarathon in June. After that, it is mostly sprint triathlons until October.

This may get ugly. The two shorter races should be fine. The marathon may not be (heck, training for it may be almost impossible). If I do the ultra (my only “A” race of the year), I think that I will have to stop at 50k.

That is assuming that I can do it at all. I won’t risk permanent ankle problems and surgery. But I am disappointed that this is flairing up right at the beginning of a busy running season (and I swore that this would be my last crazy season).

No matter what happens, at the end of this season, I will need to reassess what my body can do, and what it can’t do. I may be pushing my luck with marathons. I may need to cut them out altogether, and stick with shorter races (I am a much stronger runner at shorter distances). Shorter races are much easier to train for, and a lot less expensive to participate in. If I complete this season as scheduled, I will have 15 marathons in 10 states, one Ironman, five 70.3’s, and ¬†one ultra. I think I have already accomplished far more then I thought possible 3 years ago. I will have nothing left to prove to myself.

But, dammit, I still want to have an ultra under my belt…

Next step: I will rest for a few days, rest and ice. Then I will swap out the old beat up shoes that I have been using during last weekend’s messy outdoor runs (the sole is worn down by about 1/2″ on the lateral half of the heal) with a newer pair, and hope that my body cooperates for one last season…

 

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The Season Begins….

-10 F.

I was staring at that number a few days ago on my car’s dashboard.

A thaw was promised within a couple of days, but I could not imagine it.

But, two days later, I was outside running in 42F conditions. The wind was making it chilly, but I got 15 km completed at a moderate pace wearing only a single layer (thermal top, tights, thin gloves, longer socks, hat). I could have used a second layer on top, but I was comfortable enough that i didn’t bother going back to get it.

Running outside again felt good. Really, really good!

Since the Houston Marathon, I have been in “off-season” mode. I would run for 30 minutes on the treadmill most days. I got outside for an occasional run, but the roads were generally too icy. I needed to physically and mentally recover fom last year’s Ironman and subsequent long post-IM running season.

The goal of the off-season was simple…maintain some regular activity and try not to gain weight. Mission (mostly) accomplished. I am up about 2 lbs and exercising about 5 days a week. The weight should come off as my training starts to intensify.

For the forth year in a row, my season will begin with the “Get Lucky” next weekend. The “Get Lucky 7k” was my first ever race, and the Half Marathon has been my season opener ever since. Aside from that first year, I always go into it undertrained. I use it as a training run and as an event to get me motivated for the upcoming season. It may also be my last Get Lucky for awhile. I have decided to not participate in Team Ortho events after this season. They are overpriced train wrecks. The swag is nice but rarely used.

Looking at the upcoming year, there will be three phases. The theme for the year is the “Final Year of the Crazy”. For the past three seasons, I have been pushing myself to more intense events, just to see if I can do it. Two years ago, I did three Half-Ironmans. Last year, I did a full Ironman. This year, I will try an ultra as well as back to back marathons. Next year, I will want more balence. I am getting burnt by this schedule and will want to make running part of a healthy, sustainable, and enjoyable lifestyle. But I have some bucket list items to deal with first.

I am entering my Spring Running season. It starts with a half marathon next week and builds towards the Pittsburgh Marathon in early May, leading to the big spring event…the FANS Ultramarathon in June. I will be undertrained for everything except the ultra. Even the marathon will be treated as a long training run (I hope to have one twenty miler completed before the marathon taper). But, the main event will be the ultra (and it will likely be my one and only ultra distance event). It is a 24 hour run. The course is a two mile loop with two aid stations. I can start and stop as I please, and I can stop leave at anytime (there is no “DNF” at these events). I want to run at least 50k (which I already did once on a training run last year). I hope to push myself farther then that. Fifty miles, or even a 100k would be incredible. We will see what I can do that weekend.

Once that is behind me, I will move into my Summer Triathlon season. This will be much different then last year. 2014 was all about Ironman Wisconsin. I was doing weekly 100 mile/7 hour bike rides to prepare. This year, I have 4 triathlons and one Duathlon…ahd all of them will be sprints. The longest bike ride will be about 18 miles, followed by a 5k run. I really burnt myself out on triathlon training last year (over 3000 cycling miles!) and I really just need to reconnect with the joy of cycling and the fun of triathlon. My rides at Elm Creek will resume, but will be 2 hour, single loop rides where I can just enjoy riding again. I may only log 500 cycling miles this season, but if I am having fun doing it, then I might just continue doing it. Looking forward, I know that I will never do another Ironman. I really don’t know if I will do another 70.3. I likely will at some point, but the training and traveling for these events are significant investments and I am just not up to it this year.

Once the Summer Triathlon season is behind me, I will move into my Fall Running season. I will actually be doing a lot of run training for this in my Summer Triathlon season. I will want to have a solid base of run training before¬†the fall season begins. It will highlight three marathons in October. The first will be my third running of the Twin Cities Marathon (which I have discovered to be one of the nicest marathons in the country). This will be followed two weeks later by back-to-back marathons (2 marathons/2 states/2 days). It is called the I-35 challenge. It features the Kansas City Marathon on Saturday and the Des Moines Marathon on Sunday. Des Moines Marathon has a generous 7 hour time limit which I will likely need. Once that is behind me, there will be a couple of shorter runs as season closers on Halloween (“Monster Dash Half Marathon”) and Thanksgiving (“Turkey Trot 10k”).

So, 2015 is looking like the year of the run, and the end of the “crazy”. 2016 will be much more balenced. I am looking towards running no more then two marathons, or one marathon and one 70.3. I still want a couple of big events, but traveling is expensive, and the training for my current schedule is physically punishing and mentally exhausting. I think I will be able to get through this year’s insanity knowing that the craziness ends in October. Until then, I have a few more bucket list items to take care of…

Looking forward to a great season!

 

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