Archive for April, 2007

Pain is only temporary

April 30, 2007

Two hours before the beginning of the Eugene marathon, I warmed up by jogging a mile to Autzen Stadium, hm_1_m.jpghome of the U of O Ducks football team. I stopped near the entrance to stretch and noticed several plaques engraved with the inspirational words on leadership, teamwork, courage, etc. I repeated several of them not realizing then that one phrase in particular would come back to me during the last several miles of the race, to rescue me.

But first, I must explain how the tapering phase of my marathon training did not go according to plan. I came down with a horrible chest cold two weeks before the event which prevented me from running but for a few times. The day before the race, I was still coughing up phlegm but at least the congestion and overall physical weakness had seemed to have subsided.

There were about 1500 marathon participants at the start line and 2000 or so doing the half. The atmosphere was exciting and the weather at 7:00 am was mild with only a slight breeze.

To my surprise, by 10k I was feeling great, just running smoothly without extending myself, doing a steady 6:45/mi pace. To the half way point, I still felt fine coming in at 1:29:07.

Then everything changed. I remember slowing down drastically while runner after runner glided past me. I remember my legs feeling slow.15403-207-009t.jpg I remember being restricted to taking partial breaths so as to avoid triggering a cough reaction. Enduring this up to about 18mi, seemed like too much and I simply wanted to stop. I thought seriously about it and even rationalized that I may be getting chilled in the breeze and was perhaps putting myself at health risk to continue. And I’m sure it didn’t help that runner after runner continued to pass me by. Fortunately, I recognized these self destructive thoughts and diverted my focus to moving my legs, to simply keep moving.

By 21mi, my stride had shortened to a mere shuffle and my quads screamed but I knew that, with only 5mi to go, I had to finish. I was trying every mental trick in the book to keep myself moving and then I remembered one of the quotations I had read earlier that morning:

    Pain is only temporary, no matter how long it lasts“.

I repeated the phrase as a mantra for the rest of the race, numbing myself to the physical torment I was inflicting, right up to the finish line, crossing in a time that is neither my best nor my worst, but memorable because I pushed my boundaries, never stopped and proudly finished.

Yesterday: Marathon 3:16:54

p.s. one day removed, the pain still continues — mostly in the quads !

Expectations plummet

April 26, 2007

On my best day, the prospect of running a marathon is daunting but, as this weekend approaches, I am filled with self doubt.

images3.jpgDuring the past eleven days I have been ravaged by the symptoms of a terrible chest cold. I thought I was turning the corner a couple of days ago but, alas, I am no where near myself yet — still coughing phlegm, congested and weak. Needless to say, my confidence to race right now is mediocre at best.

Notwithstanding this protracted malaise, I have decided to at least make the trip to Eugene. I will wait to see how I feel on Sunday morning before I make any decision about actually running the marathon. If I do run it, my primary goal will be to simply enjoy the experience of running in a new place in the atmosphere of a marathon. My secondary goal will be to finish… hmm, haven’t said that since my first marathon, five years ago!

Certainly, any previous thoughts I had regarding target times for the half/finish and pace/mi have been completely abandoned.

It’s taken me several days to reconcile my aspiration to run my best marathon this weekend against the reality that, despite enduring the rigors of 16-week training, I am not physically ready to make the attempt. I believe that I can still make the event a worthwhile cause by accepting the fact that those things which I used to think were merely incidental to running a fast (PB) race — like finishing it and absorbing the experience of it — will now replace a goal finishing time as my motivation.

Weak all week

April 19, 2007

Even though I cannot inflate a lung without hacking up a cough, I forced myself to hop around the neighbourhood today, worried about the negative impact of remaining sedate any longer. Until today’s jog about, I hadn’t run since Sunday’s 10k race (three days off).

All week, I have been battling a chest cold that has left me congested, achy and weak.images2.jpg My appetite has disappeared, seems I’ve been ingesting little more than Tylenol for Cold, Buckley’s and hot tea.

Maybe this forced rest is not such a bad thing for my leg muscles, I just hope to come out of this malaise soon so that I can get a couple more training runs under my belt before marathon day (April 29, 2007).

Today: 5mi, 38:13 (av. 7:39/mi)

Racer’s regret

April 15, 2007

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As I ran up the final hill at 9k if I’d just given a little extra push, I would probably have achieved my goal of a 10k PB. Instead, I missed it by about 12 10 seconds, crossing the line in 37:48 (my watch) 37:46 (official)… although, that is my best in four years !

Today: 10k Race, 37:48 (Garmin: 6.3mi, av. 6:00/mi), 2.5miwu, 2.5micd

With or without… ?

April 14, 2007

I repeated the question silently to myself as I looked over at my restingimages1.jpg running partner, aware that many would consider the issue too frivolous to worry about, and I am strangely comforted to think that if this is my most pressing issue the day before the city’s biggest 10k then I may be ready for a great run tomorrow.

Staring at my iPod nano buddy, I asked “with or without you?” (apologies to U2)…

Hmmm, “with or without… tunes“.

The Sun Run is an annual tradition in Vancouver, bringing out everyone vs_sun_run_banner_2007_768.jpg from walkers to international elite road racers (Gilbert Okari won last year).

The weather forecast is for a perfect morning, dry and cool. Physically, I feel pretty good, during this tapering stage of marathon training and without any ailments. So the only thing left is the mental part, the psychology of running with tunes.

I took a final jog around the neighbourhood, just to flex the leg muscles. Without thinking about the psychology too much, I enjoyed flicking various songs from the nano, noticing that I would pick it up whenever a song with a strong drum beat or fast rhythm played.

That settled it, I will race with nano !!

I think I’ll go with the following selection of blood-pumping tunes:

    1. Welcome to the Jungle, Guns N’ Roses, 4:33
    2. The Emperor’s New Clothes, Sinéad O’Connor, 5:17
    3. A Little Less Conversation (Junkie XL Remix), Elvis Presley, 3:32
    4. Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac, 3:40
    5. Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lenny Kravitz, 3:31
    6. Rock and Roll, Led Zeppelin, 3:44
    7. My Best Friend’s Girl, The Cars, 3:42
    8. I Wanna Be Sedated, The Ramones, 2:29
    9. Any Way You Want It, Journey, 3:22
    10. Sheena Is a Punk Rocker, The Ramones, 2:47
    11. Blitzkrieg Bop, The Ramones, 2:11

Race goal: to set a new PB (currently 37:36 — 2003 Sun Run).

Today: 4mi, 31:29 (av. 7:53/mi), incl. striders x6

The elixir

April 11, 2007

Last week was too much, almost. I pushed my limits with volume, intensity and frequency — barely leaving time to eat, bathe and clothe myself !! I felt the effects too, as my body kind of shut down two days ago. I felt shivery and weak.

6005-186921899.jpgI realized then that I needed treatment and adopted a 3-2-1 recovery plan: three ibuprofens per day, two days’ rest and, most importantly, one large, steaming bowl of Pho (Korean Vietnamese {tx Angie!} beef ‘n rice noodle soup).

Whenever, I feel weak or under the weather, I go for Pho — it’s like the elixir for all my ailments.

When feeling run down, choosing to Pho is never a faux pas !!

The 3-2-1 recovery went so well that, today, I completed a tough pre- Sun Run interval session, followed by a wonderful 40 minute leg massage — the latter is truly the best part of marathon training… “mmm, that feels… sooo… goood !!”

Today: Intervals (2-1-2-1) (TM) 1miwu, 2mi11:34[3:00], 1mi5:42[3:00], 2mi11:44[3:00], 1mi5:45[6:00], .5micd

Too much, almost

April 8, 2007

As I post this entry, my body is screaming to me with fatigue signals. I felt weird today before my run and, in deciding to add another run to an already jam-packed week of training, I rationalized that running would make me feel better — it usually does. Not this time!

At this moment, my whole body aches, especially the legs. My body temp feels cold (I was shivering even after a hot shower), but my face is flushed, cheeks and forehead very warm to the touch. I feel weak.

I’m pretty sure that I am not fighting a bug. I think I am feeling the stresses of my last heavy week of training before the marathon (three weeks from today!).

Looking back, it was an amazing week of workouts — now need some better rest and tapering. Although I am completely exhausted at the moment, I am very happy with this week’s training, including the following highlights:

1. 79mi in total — really about as high as I would want to push the volume (Mon-Sun);
2. Long run with decent intensity, 23.12mi (av. 7:35/mi) (Fri);
3. Intervals of 5x1mi, with progressive speeds and short recoveries — about as intense as I have ever pushed mile intervals (Thurs);
4. Two double days (Tues and Wed);
5. Hills circuit (x4 ascents of 1.11 mile w 112′ elev.), with each rep faster than any previous day (Tues);
6. Three laps of Sun Run 10k coursesunrunstart_fp2005.jpg (2x Fri, 1x Sun), to help visualize/anticipate next Sunday’s race — easy to get distracted on race day, with 50,000+ participants!
7. Two core strengthening days, 1.5 hours each (Mon and Sat); and
8. One day of non-running, leg massage session instead (Mon).

Today: 11.5mi, 1:26:36 (av. 7:32/mi)

Week: 79mi, ~9:40:00, plus core strengthening, 3:00:00; total ~12:40:00

Bonk me

April 6, 2007

      eugehhf_eum2.jpg

This year, Good Friday fell 23 days before the start of the inaugural Eugene marathon. I took advantage of the holiday by doing one of (if not the) last long training run.

I had taken only one gel packet with me and consumed it at about mile 14. However, by mile 21, I achieved a robust bonk (has a nice ring to it) and pretty well had to drag myself back home — the last two mile splits being 8:44 and 8:45 !!

I must better prepare for marathon day by packing along three gels.

Today: 23.12mi, 2:55:26 (av. 7:35/mi)

Aim high

April 5, 2007

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With two races in sight, I approached today’s intervals with re-newed intensity. I decided that, if I want to get any more PBs, I need to be less passive in my approach.

The biggest 10k race in the country will take place in 10 days and the Eugene marathon two weeks after that. I need to rededicate myself on my key work out days to push my boundaries.

I did exactly that with the interval work out today, especially by the last interval where I held nothing back — if not now, when?

Today: Intervals (TM) (5x1mi) 1miwu, 5:42[2:00], 5:39[2:00], 5:36[2:00], 5:33[2:00], 5:24[2:00], 1micd

Three “R”s

April 4, 2007

Running today was a joy, not necessarily fast but I found my knees rising high, foot striking the mid-sole and toeing off — good form which, more often than not, is missing !!

I felt so good today that, like yesterday, I did another double and, again, topped it off with a Costanza recovery (ice bath — brrr !!).

I don’t know exactly why running was such a pleasure today but it might have something to do with the confluence of what I will now refer to as the three “R”s of running, being:

(1) Rested: Since straining my calf nine days ago, I’ve taken five days off without any running) — stores up energy.
(2) Refreshed: As mentioned, I did the Costanza recovery yesterday — rejuvenating !
(3) Re-newed runners: I bought the Nike Pegasus and broke them in today — quite springy.

I will have to try to re-create this as a ‘peRfect Race-stoRm’ when it counts !!

Today:

    (1) Progression (TM) 6mi, 44:59 (6.5-11.5mph),

    (2) Easy 7.5mi, 1:04:28 (av. 8:35/mi)

A Costanza recovery

April 3, 2007

I just had a 10 minute ice bath which entailed one shriek (from me), much shivering and… images.jpgserious shrinkage — bless you, George Costanza !!

It’s hard to describe the range of sensations when ice water surrounds your aching muscles. As you dip in, it feels like a pain aversion then, after a couple of minutes immersed, you adopt a very calm stillness — you dare not move for fear of disturbing away the warmest water molecules next to the surface of the skin.

This was my first ice bath of the year but I felt it necessary due to my recent calf strain and the fact that I wanted an effective recovery from the double I did today — a little catch up following two days to rest.

I will try to incorporate more ice baths into my routine over the next few weeks because my legs always feel rejuvenated afterward thereby permitting me to images-1.jpgmaintain weekly mileage volume, including several high intensity days mixed in.

Also, the massage therapy is going well. I’ve had two sessions to date and will try to go once a week until the Eugene marathon, April 29, 2007.

Today:

    (1) Hills 10mi, 1:12:01

      {incl. 4 ascents 1.11mi w 112′ elev, 6:53/6:53/6:57/6:59};

    (2) Easy 9mi, 1:12:10 (av. 8:01/mi)

p.s. the last time that I did this hill work out, my fastest rep then (7:11) was slower than my slowest rep today (second time I’ve achieved this feat!) — Woot-Hoot !!

Against all advice

April 1, 2007

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With the Eugene marathon only four weeks away and, after having taken four beach-copy.gif full days off to rest my strained calf muscle, yesterday presented a temptation in the form of the Birch Bay 30k, in beautifully scenic Birch Bay, WA.

I could not resist, notwithstanding all advice to take it easy for a little while longer.

The Birch Bay 30k had been in the back of my mind, as a possible marathon tune up but I had held off registering until the last minute. A few weeks ago, I thought I would wait to see what the weather would be for race day but then, after straining my calf, I continued holding off primarily to see if I felt up to it.

It’s a quick trip from Vancouver to Birch Bay, only delayed slightly by the cars lined up at the border, one lane only, at 6:30 a.m. The border agent asked me only two questions: “Where are you going?” and “have you ever been arrested?” — interesting.

By the time of the start, conditions were near perfect, dry with temperature at about 6 or 7 degrees Celsius, although it was noticeably windy along the waterfront. The first 10k felt great as I largely neutralized the effect of the wind by drafting off another guy for most of that segment. I’m sure that 10k would have been about a minute slower without him taking the brunt of the headwinds for us — thanks buddy !!!

Unfortunately, I discovered that my wind-blocker buddy would be only doing the 15k when he took the turn back at about the 13k point. After that, I was left to basically my own devices facing down a nasty headwind. Then, from 15k to about 23k, the course was naturally blocked from the winds but this was made up by several longish hills.

Even on my best days, I consider hill ascents to be the weakest part of my running but, on this day I was quite conscious of my tender calf muscle and, therefore, plodded up the hills so as not to cause any aggravation. During these climbs, I was passed for the first time, but convincingly, by two guys who were running together.

As poor as I am at running the ascents, I think I somewhat make up for it on the descents. From 25k to 29k it was all down hill and I was able to relax into a quick turnover and let gravity pull me down — for me that was the best part of the race but probably why my quads ache today !!

bb30kfinish.jpgAs I crossed the finish line, my whole body hurt but the strained calf was no worse for wear — and it seems okay today too! I am so pleased to have completed this pre-marathon test, without causing or aggravating any injury.

I noticed that my Garmin tracked the distance I covered as 18.98mi (30.53k) which is unusual because the course had been certified (?). My average pace worked out to 6:47/mi which is basically my goal marathon pace, so I was definitely pleased with that too !! Now, I’ll just have to tack on another 12k, or so — of course, those will be most difficult 12k !!

Yesterday: Race(“30k”), 1miwu, 18.98mi(30.53k), 2:08:42(av. 6:47/mi)

    Strt-10k: 39:36 (av. 6:22/mi)
    10k-20k: 43:24 (av. 6:59/mi) (accum: 1:23:00)
    20k-30k: 43:48 (av. 7:02/mi) (accum: 2:06:48)
    last .53k: 1:54 (av. 5:45/mi) (accum: 2:08:42)