Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pass the pasta, pickles, chocolate and cheese!

Guess what? It's Thursday. Time for a new Herald running column! Reading the blog, some of you might have noticed that I like food. The column, like my waistline, expands on this theme. Bon appetite!

Oh, and I'll run five miles tonight. So don't worry.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Pissed off and fuming

Tried to run today but guess what? My knee hurts. Bad. I can't put much real pressure on it. Boo hoo hoo, I know. The thing that pisses me off the most is I can't think of any reason why it should hurt. I didn't twist, bend it wrong, fall on it or bang it into anything. It just hurts. Just what I needed some three weeks before. I'm so happy about all this. Can't you tell? Doesn't it just radiate from the words you are reading?

Massage magic

Even as my bag of frozen peas is wrapped around my shin, I am tentatively ready to say that my leg might be getting better.

The key, maybe, was an extraordinarily painful massage I had last night. Now, I'm no stranger to painful massages, but this one was even more painful.

The massage therapist I see practices something called "release" which is not nearly as erotic as my dirty-minded readers might assume. It involves taking either two fingers or a fist, and wedging them deep into my abdomen or under my rib cage to release the tension from a muscle that apparently runs down the inside of your back, connecting your feet directly to your eyes, or somesuch thing. Long story short: when she is releasing this muscle, it feels something like when a baby alien is born in an "Alien" movie, except that in this case, the alien is trying to GET INTO my abdomen, not get out.

Regardless, coming out of the massage, my legs felt better than they have in weeks, so spring that I actually skipped and hopped to my car on the way to the Big Sur Marathon training clinic. Things are getting a little thin around the clinics, and I'm not talking about my (still robust) waistline. A crowd that initially numbered over 100 has dwindled to less than 20. Even my theoretical training partner Ken (heart of a champion) Ottmar has not attended the last half dozen or so. For shame.'

Last night's clinic was the second in a row focusing on actural Big Sur course strategy. One speaker, a world-class distance runner, told us that the bottom line is that the person who does best on race day is the one who's best equipped to deal with pain. If my leg is truly getting better, than maybe the injuiry has been a blessing, because it certainly has been a real pain.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Fast Five

DistanceTimeRoutePace
5 mi.46:17 mins.treadmill9:20 min./mi.


So, here's the plan, people. Listen up!

During the week, I'm going to run fewer miles and try to run them faster. The longest week-day run I'm-a-gonna do will be five miles.

I ran five miles today. I might run five tomorrow. I'll definitely run at least four on Thursday.

I will run 1 more long run. On Saturday. It will be between 20 and 22 miles.

Then I will go back to five-milers. Or, if I feel like it, less.

The next weekend, I'll run something longer than five miles. Maybe 10. Maybe 12. No more than that.

Then, five-milers from then on to the race. Five miles. Five miles. Not six. Not seven. Certainly not 8.

I will try to run them fast. I will develop speed. I will sweat and smile.

I will be ready for the race. My leg will not fall off. I hope.

That is all.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Saturday Six

DistanceTimeRoutePace
6 mi.58:30treadmillless than 10 min. mi.


Four. Weeks. Left.

Thank the lord.

I'm procrastinating before every run becuase I dread the shin pain. I had planned to run in a 10k on Saturday morning, but didn't set my alarm.

I slept until noon, then had a big lunch. The big lunch precluded me from running until the dusky afternoon. Accordingly, instead of running outside, with big icky hills, I ran on the nice, flat, rubbery treadmill.

My legs still hurt, buty I ran four mile intervals at 9:40, 9:22, 9:06 and 9:06. Good for me. Then I quit, three miles short of the 9 I had planned on running. I haven't run today, and I'm not sure that I will, but maybe I'll try.

I'm already trying to work up the mental strength for my last long run, another 22, and then we'll be at the blessed taper. It's a good thing, too, because The Fear is getting thick aroungd here. I fear that that crazed lunatic Kenny might try to do something rash. I've installed a mirror in my desk so I can watch my back while I work and I've taken to wearing shinguards and a catcher's mask around the office to fend of any possible Tonya Harding-type behavior.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The news is not so good

My knee hurt worse today than yesterday. Most times, it feels fine. I walk without noticing anything. But then an awkward step or off-balanced move and immediately a rather sharp and painful jolt hits the area, causing my left leg to buckle.

I don't know what to make of it. As I sit here typing, I feel totally normal. I have even tested it by jogging down the hall or across the newsroom tonight at work. I just don't trust it.

Well, hopefully rest will cure all. I'll update tomorrow.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

What's in a knee?

DistanceTimeRoutePace
11 MILES2:01.22My house along the ocean to PG high to my parents11:02 per mile


I gotta tell you...I'm getting stronger. Problem today, however, was a bad pain in my left knee. It didn't throb like an ache, it was sharp like I had twisted it. But I didn't, so I'm a little baffled.

Anyways, I've said stuff like this before, but my legs felt great. I wasn't tired. I could have done at least five more. I just hope this knee thing gets better quickly because I can't put alot of repetitive pressure on it.

Anyways, that's it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Friday mail sack.

I didn't run today, but I didn't plan to, so it's not a failure.

I didn't get much mail this week, so that's kind of a failure. But I did get a delightful letter from Sandy, who helps me put the difficulties of my last long training run into perspective. At least nothing bit me last saturday, although I'm sure my salt-covered flesh would have been tasty.

Subject: Bag of peas
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005
From: "Sandy"
To:

Jonathan,

I've really enjoyed reading your columns and your "adventures" in running. Even though I am relegated to walking because of back problems and will only be able to do the Power Walk at Big Sur, I can totally relate to your trainings.
I have had many, many horror stories in trainings over the last 5 years while training for various marathons and half marathons and have found the Contour paks (www.contourpak.com) from Moraga are much better than peas.
I bought my first one at the Big Sur Marathon in 2000 and have purchased others since then (when one body part hurts, there is usually another equally painful spot on the other side of the body hurting too).
Your painful 22 miler will make you mentally stronger for the marathon. Even if things do not go perfectly, you will know YOU CAN DO IT!!! When things get tough for me I remember my last long training before my first marathon when I was doing 26 miles for the training.
I was bitten by a dog on mile 15 so my leg was throbbing and my stride was thrown off. For the remainder of the miles I had muscle spasms in all sorts of weird places because of my strange gait, blisters which I had never had before, and I was a physical and emotional mess.
My husband waits at each mile for me on the dirt roads where I train and all I could think of when I saw his truck down river was that all I had to do was to make it to the truck.
Just as I was almost there, he drove off down the road. When I finally got to where he stopped and asked if that was 26 miles, he smiled and said no, you did the whole 26.2! If I had the strength, I would have strangled him.
A few months later he was smart enough to call from his truck instead of telling me face to face that his odometer on his truck was off and I had actually gone 27.5 miles that day. Why didn't I stop when bitten - because I had to get the long one done and I did not want to repeat those 15 miles!
I know your next training run will go better and I hope you fly like the wind! I will cheer for you at Big Sur when you run by me.

Sincerely,

A fan from the CA/OR border

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Angry, Angry Kenny

Kenny wrote a very angry column about his training for the Big Sur Marathon in today's Herald. The tone is defiant, fiery and upset. Come April 24, he will finish.

By the way, a newsroom spy reported that they saw Mr. Ottmar snacking on a double bacon cheeseburger during his shift Sunday night. Shame. Shame.

Hitting the bottle again

DistanceTimeRoutePace
12 mi.2:12:27 hrs.Home - Monterey Bay Aqauarium - PG High R/T11:03 mins./mi.


Sometimes I wonder when running will be fun again.

Oh, sure, there are moments in each run that are enjoyable, there are times that are little epiphanies, like today, when, at mile 4, the pain went away and I could run normal for a while, or, at mile 8, when Axl Rose invaded my head, screeching "Welcome 2 the Jungle" as I sang along the the alarm of sea gulls and senior citizens alike.

Welcome to the Jungle, indeed.

This morning's 12 was another run where almost everything hurt at one time or another, with the loudest complaints continuing to come from my left leg. In the last month, I've tried to control my mileage, I've tried to move some training off pavement to the treadmill, and I hit the Advil hard, until one night I had a bad stomach ache, hopefully caused by eating too much cheese.

Cutting more miles with a month left before the race is not an option. In fact, I think my conditining has actually slipped in the last few weeks, although it's possible that running with a limp takes more energy than having good form. So, now, after a few days off ibuprofen because of an upset tummy, I'm back on the horse.

Magic beans, down the hatch. Bring your sweet relief.

p.s. Kenny wrote a really angry column for today's paper lashing out at me and his boss for doubting him behind his back. I'll post it later today, so it can get the attention it deserves.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A leisurely 8

DistanceTimeRoutePace
8 MILES1:32.32MY HOUSE TO THE WHARF AND BACK11:34 PER MILE


Ah 8 miles. Nice and easy. No need to push. Time is not the important element. Consistency is. I admit, that has rarely been the case throughout. But I feel good. Nothing hurts. The last mile up hill was difficult. I am a bit afraid of Hurricane Point. But alas, what is there to worry about? I will either make it or not. What is the difference? I tried, did I not?

I am a bad bad boy.

I didn't even bother hitting the snooze button today. At 6 a.m., I just reset my alarm to 8:15 and went back to sleep.

I can't seem to wake up for a morning run anymore, expecially when its drizzling out. The antiseptic comfort of the treadmill is readily available to me after work, and allows me a convenient excuse for not getting out of bed.

The thing is, I've never seemed to need an excuse for staying in bed. It's something that seems to come very naturally to me. Maybe it's the comfort of my appropriately named comforter, maybe it's the knowledge that if I get out of bed, I'll have to wash the drool off my face. Maybe it's the sweet, sweet dreams of frolicking through donut shops in South Beach with supermodels drinking beer and chocolate milk.

But I'm guessing that I'm just lazy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sooo, sooo tired...

DistanceTimeRoutePace
6 mi.1:08:58treadmill: 3 miles at incline11 something mins./mi.


I think my legs are shot.

I wanted to run 7 mi. on the treadmill last night. I only ran 6. I think my legs are still tired from Saturday.

Thankfully, I'm taking today off. No running, not even to the refrigerator.

The most interesting thing that happened yesterday at the gym: a middle-aged woman got onto the treadmill next to me, and noticed that I was making the floor, her treadmill, and everything around me shake with the pounding of my steps.

As her water bottle bobbled precariously on the control panel of her machine while she walked at a 2.5 mph pace, she kept shooting me looks and giving me a sort-of-whatthe.eff.- gesture with her hands.

When I quit running at 6 mi. and turned off my iPod, she had the nerve to comment that she'd never experienced such shaking when she was on a treadmill before, with the subtext that she found the whole sordid episode to be greatly disconcerting to her.

Why didn't she just come out and say that people who weigh more than 200 pounds shouldn't be allowed to run at her gym? The nerve.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Ode to frozen peas

Oh bag of frozen peas,
I love the way you crunch,
when I slam you on the table,
breaking you up for duty.

Crispy cold you comfort,
bonded to my shin,
cooling off my sweaty legs
tied on with an old sock.

In minutes you are squishy,
the heat has made you soft,
green liquid leaking out,
but pain's replaced by numbness.

Back in the box you go,
on the shelf next to the chicken,
where you wait for me to take you
out into the world again.

Your duty it is sacred,
for you will not be eaten,
like carrots, ice cream or burritos,
you, doctor of the freezer.

p.s. I've apparently lost my mind.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

If suffering gives life meaning... (or 22 miles of ouch)

DistanceTimeRoutePace
22 mi.4:29:42 hrs.Downtown PG to 12th Street in Marina R/T12:16 mins./mi.


Some Russian novelist said that life without suffering is meaningless. Well, on Saturday, my life had just as much meaning as I could handle.

How bad was it?

It was as painful as listening to Poison's "Every Rose has a Thorn" for eight straight hours while drinking eight bottles of sickly sweet Boone's malt beverage.

But let's go back a couple days to find the origins of my pain. On Thursday, I felt myself getting drowsy, with an itchy throat. This wasn't just a bad case of ennui, I was coming down with a cold. Knowing in the back of my mind that I had to run 22 in a couple days, and confirming once again that the marathon has, uh, skewed my priorities, I decided Friday morning that I would stay home and try to sleep my cold away. I drank lots of water, ate some lozenges, and the cold started to clear up.

That night, something else happened. After a day of subsisting on various forms of bread and cheese, I got a horrible stomach ache. It felt like my intestines were tying themselves into a lasso so they could rope a calf. And, as a bonus, I was all bound up - clogged like the drain in King Kong's bathtub. A little pepto cleared up my problems -- so I thought -- and I went to sleep.

Saturday morning came. My stomach didn't hurt anymore and my cold was in full retreat. But when I got out of bed, I noticed something strange. It felt like I had pulled an abdominal muscle as I slept. Is it possible to have a stomach cramp so bad that it pulls a muscle? Had all the Advil finally eaten a hole in my gut? An intelligent person might have been concerned. But I wasn't.

I strapped on my gear and was off to the north. It was basically the same route I ran for my 16-miler but further.

Now, as stated previously, at this point in my training, nearly everything hurts. So, I took it easy. Real easy. Like, more than 12 minutes a mile easy. Early in the run, everything seemed to be going well. About an hour in, the place of my stomach discomfort started hurting. It seemed my fanny pack was strapped over a tender spot. I adjusted. Kept running. It kept hurting.

By the time I got to my halfway point, the pain was exquisite. I looked at my cell phone. It stared back at me. I decided to ignore the pain. I decided to finish the run. So I turned around and ran the 11 miles back, creaky legs and cramping stomach. I ran them very slowly (A 10-minute positive split).

Near the end of my run, a teenaged boy yelled at me to run faster. If I could have run faster, I would have caught him and issued him the first class beating he deserved. But then I would have had to cool down and stretch in the back of the squadcar. And I'm a lover, not a fighter.

Sometime I wish that I could wear a sign when I do my long runs. The sign would display to people that I was on my 20th mile. Then maybe they'd learn some respect.

Anyway, I finished, in 4.5 hours, just a little less time than I hope it takes me to run the entire marathon. I don't know why I was so slow yesterday. I don't know if I can run a really long distance any faster. But I do know that I can gut it out if things don't go right on race day. And I guess that's the point of running 22 miles.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The specter of pain

DistanceTimeRoutePace
11 MILES2:04/25My house to Lovers, turn around but stopped at Embassay Suites11:16 per mile


Standing over me, with a grin of pure evil and a touch of pure disdain, the spectar of pain was having one of those days. I could tell from his icy eyes and his butane hot fingers that the idea of torture was something of a pasttime.
As for myself, I could do little to stop him (or her?). Though I longed to simply kick free of his grasp, I was beyond the point of resistance. No, the only option remaining was to submit.

Sounds tragic, doesn't it? Or maybe just perverse. I don't know how else to describe how I felt moments after completing just 11 miles. My legs grimmaced at even the slightest thought of movement. Every twitch, even the mere strain against the breeze, brought discomfort the likes of which I have never known.

Overdramatic? Perhaps. But I have literary freedom here. What I don't have is an escape clause. This insane idea of running the marathon is now just weeks away. When the prospect first arose, it was nearly half a year in the making. Now, I realize that there is nothing I can do, short of intentionally injuring myself, to get out of this one.

One way or another, I will be on that bus the morning of April 24. Between this day and that, I will do whatever is necessary to ensure that I cross the finish line. At what time? Not even I care. Finishing has been the goal since the second month of training. Beating Jon Segal? Comedy is a luxury I just can't engage in at the moment. Heck, even my boss, who has yet to declare his intentions to run the marathon, is further (or is farther) ahead in the training. He just completed 18 miles. And he said it didn't reallly hurt.

Okay, my wife just handed me some cheese. I'm done whining.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Miles on the shoes; miles on the credit card

DistanceTimeRoutePace
5 mi.56:30 mins.home - up irving ave. - up david - up presidio - down congress11:20 mins./mi.


My run last night, through what I call "the hill route" was tough. I thought I went faster, but when I looked at my watch, it wasn't fast at all. Now, my leg still hurts and I think I'm coming down with a cold. Yuck.

But even worse, my credit card bills are coming due. I've stressed out my magnetic stripes on a binge of coolmax and spandex. Read all about it here in my latest Monterey County Herald running column. And then send money.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Good story.

I really enjoyed this ultramarathon story in the New York Times today.

Snooooze.

I hit the snooze bar seven times this morning.

Apparently, I liked running at night so much, I wanted to do it again.

I am a lazy, lazy man.

Here's a link: Technorati Profile

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Moment.

DistanceTimeRoutePace
7 mi.1:08:30Home to Window on the Bay R/T9:47 min./mi.


Have you ever had a perfect running moment? One that's cinematic, sublime, dreamlike...

I have.

It was last night...

I thought my marathon dreams were in danger. I thought they were foundering on rocks of ice in a sea of Advil. I thought they'd be shattered by shinsplints.

The soreness in my left leg has gotten to a point where, a few times a day, I walk with a cute little limp. Awww. Darling... But yesterday I made up my mind. Throw out the fear. Press on.

So with a little trepidation, I stripped off my work clothes and slid on my shorts and a short sleeve shirt. It was 6 p.m. and the sun had nearly set when I stepped out of my door and onto the road down to the rec trail.

In the beginning of the run, I was carrying an extra weight with me: fear. I heard that if you run with an injury, you change your gait a little to make up for it. This, in turn, causes another injury somewhere else. Soon, the theory goes, you don't have a chance, your body starts falling apart everywhere and you'll be a mangled mess.

So, on my way out in the twilight, every twinge was a possible career-ender, every ache the beginning of the end. One side of my brain said to ignore it and run faster. That side won and I ran into the coming darkness.

Down the shore, past the aquarium, down Cannery Row. Breath in, breath out. All the while my left leg still hurt a little, and I wondered if I was favoring my right.

Nearing the halfway point of my run, I forgot about all of it. Between the breathing and the sweating and the ocean in the moonlight and the perfect night air and peace of the nearly deserted trail, I just didn't care about the pain anymore. It was just me, my lungs and the music in my ears.

My strides fell in rhythm with the song on my ipod and I couldn't much feel the ground beneath my feet. It was almost like I was flying. And it was then that I knew it for sure: I would run the marathon in April. And it would be wonderful.

Turning around, the boats in the harbor, the moon and the stars, the city lights on the hills all accompanied me as I cruised home. Last night, I set a new personal record for that route. But, more importantly, I killed doubt, hopefully for good.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Days of reckoning

I haven't run since Friday. On Friday, I ran 5 miles. Since then, I haven't run. (In case you missed it the first time.)

My leg still hurts. I thought taking a couple days off would help. I walked a lot yesterday, and sometimes it hurt, and sometimes it didn't. But I promised myself that, no matter what, I would run on Monday morning.

The road of my life is paved with the shattered remnants of broken promises. I hit the snooze bar six times and got to work 15 minutes late, without running at all. My gym bag festers in my car, dirty shorts and socks, sweaty shoes all basting in the sun, creating a heady brew of stink in my Subaru.

I have the feeling that the pain will be with me for the duration. I have a feeling that this is crunch time. Six weeks left. It's time to get off my butt and back on my feet, before my butt starts growing again.

Friday, March 11, 2005

It's Friday Mailbag!!!!

I meant to run yesterday. But my leg hurt and I'm lazy and I ran Wednesday and what are you going to do about it anyway. Huh? You wanna piece of me? That's what I thought.

I'm sorry if I seem more agressive than usual. It's just that instead of training, I watched training on TV. Specifically, I watched "Rocky 4: Rocky Wins the Cold War." This is the movie that pits the old Italian Stallion up against Dolph Lundgren, who is trained with the best technology and drugs that the Soviet Union can buy. Rock, on the other hand, trains in Siberia by pulling a cart, chopping wood, running through the snow and boxing a side of beef. By the end, Stallone os so ripped that he looks like he's carved from a slab of marble, albeit a slab slathered with a thick coating of grease. (Dolph, by the way, looks and acts like he's carved of wood.)

Of course, Stallone wins and, in the process, captures the hearts of those nasty commies including a Gorby lookalike, who goes on to bring down the Berlin Wall.

If Rocky can have such an effect, what can two tubby guys running a marathon achieve with the public. We'll find out with a new edition of ..... Friday Mailbag!!!

Date: Thursday, March 10
From: "Beth XXXXX"

Hi Jonathan!

I wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading about your running/life.
What will us addicts to your words do after you complete this journey? I think you will have to take on another horrific task - triathlon anyone?
Seriously, I have half as sed considered myself a runner for years now. I struggle in every way you describe and more. I'm motivated to keep moving my fat ass so my girls see a healthy mom, but the most I have ever accomplished is a 1/2 marathon. You are so fantastic taking on a full marathon!!! Keep up the great work and know someone in Stillwater, MN is cheering you on from afar!!

Beth

PS. Your Mind Over Matter entry was hysterical. I've spent many a run chanting Hail Marys, I'm going to try Mind Over Monkey for my 10K the end of April...I'll let you know if Mary gets pis sed off or the Monkey carries me through.

Date: Saturday, March 5
From: Glenn XXXXXX

My dad is one of the grizzled vets and he talked me into running the 20th BSIM with him this year. It took a lot of wine, but he somehow made me promise to do it this year. My training runs are almost identical to yours, except I think I hurt more. Which is puzzling since I prided (note the past tense) myself in being an adventure athlete that spends 10-12 hours on the course. Of course the good teams spend about 6 hours.

Best of luck with the remainder of the training- and remember that most of us are just like you guys, grinders.

Glenn

Subject: 3/03 column
Date: Sunday, March 6, 2005
From: KAEDAY@XXXX.XXX

I read your article with interest. The Monterey Recreation Trail is wonderful, but it is not the Marathon Training Trail. Perhaps you should consider weekend training along the Big Sur Coast road or little-traveled roads near Jolon or Lake San Antonio or Tres Pinos.
My husband and I occasionally enjoy a jaunt along the Monterey Recreation Trail on a weekend day, loving the weather, the views, the people we meet, and the fairly level trail that allows me to enjoy it all from my wheelchair.
Please take your marathon training elsewhere & allow families to use the Recreation Trail without bothering you.


Subject: trail rage
Date: Friday. March 4 2005

Thanks for your article - it was hilarious and I fully identified with every part of it. When I'm biking on the trail, I hate walkers/runners. When I'm walking or running, I hate bikers. When I'm on skates, I hate everyone. My only trick is to go very early to avoid the crowds.

Good luck with your training,

Christy

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Grinding it out

DistanceTimeRoutePace
10 mi.1:39:03 mins.treadmill9:54 mins./mi.


Another night, another hour and a half on the treadmill. I wanted to run 12 last night, but the treadmill only goes to 10. Who was I to argue? I wanted to go slow, but the timer on the pre-Y2K treadmill only went to 99:59. Who was I to argue with an ancestor of our future robot masters?

So I ran 10 miles, with the goal of finishing in under 100 minutes. I found success. But success comes with a price.

Yesterday, thanks in part to Advil and to an extended pre-run stretching routine, the old left-leg shinsplints weren't even bothering me. But this morning, when I woke up, my left leg was stiff and sore. As long as I'm complaining, I might as well tell you nosy people that I've had a lingering sore throat for a week or so, too.

So, folks, here's what I'm looking at. I have six weeks until the race. I've had two long runs, and have two left. I'm at almost at the climax of the training. I have shinsplints. I've already moved a good deal of my miles to the forgiving surface of a treadmill.

Should I:

A) Stop running and crosstrain for a week or two until my shinsplints go away.

B) Cut my miles by some fraction.

C) Combination of A and B.

D) Keep running my miles, pop Advil, ice frequently and hope the shinsplints go away.

I'm inclined to choose D, because the shinsplints are tolarably painful for the first mile and a half of a run then they go away for the remainder.

And one more thing:

Courage.







Grinding it out

DistanceTimeRoutePace
10 mi.1:39:03 mins.treadmill9:54 mins./mi.


Another night, another hour and a half on the treadmill. I wanted to run 12 last night, but the treadmill only goes to 10. Who was I to argue? I wanted to go slow, but the timer on the pre-Y2K treadmill only went to 99:59. Who was I to argue with an ancestor of our future robot masters?

So I ran 10 miles, with the goal of finishing in under 100 minutes. I found success. But success comes with a price.

Yesterday, thanks in part to Advil and to an extended pre-run stretching routine, the old left-leg shinsplints weren't even bothering me. But this morning, when I woke up, my left leg was stiff and sore. As long as I'm complaining, I might as well tell you nosy people that I've had a lingering sore throat for a week or so, too.

So, folks, here's what I'm looking at. I have six weeks until the race. I've had two long runs, and have two left. I'm at almost at the climax of the training. I have shinsplints. I've already moved a good deal of my miles to the forgiving surface of a treadmill.

Should I:

A) Stop running and crosstrain for a week or two until my shinsplints go away.

B) Cut my miles by some fraction.

C) Combination of A and B.

D) Keep running my miles, pop Advil, ice frequently and hope the shinsplints go away.

I'm inclined to choose D, because the shinsplints are tolarably painful for the first mile and a half of a run then they go away for the remainder.

And one more thing:

Courage.







Wednesday, March 09, 2005

When it comes to funk, I am a junkie.

The new Runner's World (By the way, why don't they have "Sitter's World? Oh, wait, they do. It's called TV Guide. Snap!) arrived in my mailbox yesterday, chock full of useful articles and pictures of the ├╝ber fit tailor made to decrease my awesomeness exponentially.

It had an article about use of NSAID's (read ibuprofen and asprin, i.e. ADVIL). The article said the drugs are a necesarry evil, but issued stern warnings about possible health problems, including, but not limited to, kidney failure, stomach bleeding, and something called Ugly Mouth. (Just kidding, I made ugly mouth up.)

It freaked me out sufficiently to temporarily discontinue my constant intake of the drugs. This morning, I remembered why I was taking the darn things when I got out of bed to a pounding return of shinsplints in my left leg. I couldn't wait to return to my old friend. Magic beans down the hatch. The monkey will sleep tonight. Meanwhile, I'll run 12 on the darn treadmill or in the dark.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I've gained 6 pounds in the last week!

DistanceTimeRoutePace
6 mi.62 mins.treadmill10:20 mins./mi.


I've gained 6 pounds in the last week! Wow. I ran, like, 40 miles last week, including a 19-mile extravaganza, and I gained 6 pounds that I'll now have to heave 26 miles. in a month and a half.

I should cut out chocolate, donuts and cookies. That's what I should do.

But maybe the weight is all muscle. And John Basedow says muscle will burn more calories, even while I sleep. And there are so many delicious cookies around here. The girlscout cookies came last week. After I ate a roll of thin mints in one day, I hid them in my desk. But I know where they are. I can feel them, like Darth Vader could feel the presence on young Skywalker.

Breathing heavy, they say: "Join us. (Heavy, crumb-filled breath.) We will rule the galaxy together, as cookie and man."

The force is strong with the thin mints.

Whew! I think I'm OK

I woke up this morning still stiff and sore but my groin feels a lot better. I can still feel some tension and some soreness, but I can lift my legs normally without much pain and I certainly feel I could run again.
Unfortunately, Tuesdays are the worst day for me to run, so I'll put it off for another day. One more day of rest should help.

Monday, March 07, 2005

MIND OVER MONKEY

DistanceTimeRoutePace
19?3:34:12 hrs.Golden Gate Pk. Panhandle to Ocean Beach to Sloat St. (2x) to Panhandle11:20 ish?


Ah San Francisco. The culture. The street cars. The Rice-A-Roni. The yuppies, with white cords dangling from their ears. The neo-Hippies with their patchwork pants and flowing skirts. The scent of marijuana wafting through the park. The strange men talking to themselves. Good old SF.

Saturday. It was a good run on a gorgeous day that I spent visiting my sister. (See Oy I Hurt in the archive for an example of how that usually goes.) Ten minutes into the run, I ran into an old college buddy who I hadn't seen since graduation. I told him what I was up to, and he responded incredulously:

"You're only 10 minutes into a 20 mile run and you're already winded?" he said.

I had a quick, excessively lame response:

"The first mile is the windiest."

ZING! (not)

So, I ran for more than three and a half hours. There were a few times I wanted to quit, lay down in the grass and go to sleep. Fear was one of the things that kept me from doing that (Who knows what happens to people who fall asleep in Golden Gate Park?)

I found that the GU energy gel works really well. The two times that I felt like I was completely out of gas, I squeezed one of those packets into my mouth, sucking it up like a junkie in need of a fix. Three minutes later. I had energy to stride on. I wonder what they put in those things. (Probably jellied crack.)

I also engaged the mantra method of focusing. I've had at least one mantra throughout: "mind over monkey". It's like mind over matter, but funnier. I'll try to explain. I think of my body as pure animal, just another hairy stinky ape: Run Monkey Run. No, Monkey Tired. Monkey want to quit. To Sleep in Grass and Eat Grubs. Scratch. Scratch.

But my mind is what makes me human. And the human part of me is what takes on strange quests like running a marathon. The mind knows that the monkey can work harder, can run faster, go longer. The mind must wheedle, tempt and, if necesarry, coerce the monkey into working.

Say it with me:

Mind over Monkey. Mind over Monkey. Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.Mind over Monkey.

I'm hurt and it could be serious

That weak right groin of my just got worse. I can't lift my knee above my waist without a searing surge of pain in the area. I don't know what happened. It was hurting Thursday but only slightly. Then I tried to run on it Sunday and had to stop because of the pain.
I'm trying to figure out who I should go see. Any suggestions? I figure a doctor is the first place to look but don't know if I should see a specialist. God, I hope it isn't too serious. This is the wrong time for this to happen (when is a right time?)

Anyways, I check back in tomorrow, give you all an update.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The lost post.

I ran, like 19 miles today in San Francisco. I wrote a long post about it. It was the funniest, best thing ever written. It was like Huckleberry Finn and Ulysses combined, with a dash of King Lear. Then I accidentally deleted the post.

Let us all weep for the lost post. I'll try again later.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Shinsplints!!!

DistanceTimeRoutePace
3.5 mi.40 mins.treadmill: 1 mile flat, 1 mile 4 pct. grade, 1 mile 5 pct. grade.slow


Once again, my left leg hurt the first mile of the run, so much that I was gimping a little. The next two, with the treadmill tilted up, were less painful but tough. I planned to run 6. I ran 3.5 and decided I had enough for one night. After all, I have to run 20 tomorrow.

I talked to my dad (he's a doc) about my leg pain. He said it sounds like I have shinsplints. So I'm back on the Advil. I'm stretching and icing. But I will not let the pain keep me down.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The headache killer

DistanceTimeRoutePace
8 MILES1:18.22My parents house, along Asilomar, to Lovers and back9:47 per mile


Sleep is a commodity I can't afford.
I have a wife. I have a 1 and half year old daughter. I work nights. My wife goes to school early in the morning. Add that up and what is left over is very little sleep.
Throw in a sprinkle of insomnia, which used to be a bigger problem for me.
Needless to say, I awoke Thursday having garnished a total of six hours of sleep the past four days. I've had a headache that has lasted nearly a week. My eyes feel exactly how I imagined Alex's felt in a Clockwork Orange during his "rehabilitation" scene. Only nobody was keeping mine lubricated.
My morning was spent with my precious daughter (her name is Alexandra, Alex for short, no connection, really). So too was lunch. My wife went from school to work and I did not see her again until 10 p.m.
I decided I had to make an effort to run, so with Alex in the hand, I made my way to my parent's house. Alex fell asleep on the drive over and was dead to the world once we got there. I wanted to join her. As I melted into a particularly comfortable leather couch, my mother started prodding me to run.
I'm too tired I said. My legs still hurt from the 10 miler on Monday. I'm not feeling well.
The excuses rolled off of my tongue without much thought. It was a shame really because the one person in my entire world who I should never complain to is my mother.
She has known more pain than can be imagined. She has MS, multiple sclerosis, and while her symptoms have progressed somewhat slower than others, well..., I won't even begin to get into what she has dealt with the past 15 years.
So, minutes later, I was out on the road. Now, I finally wised up and brought with me some GU and a water bottle. The GU was courtesy of my boss and the water bottle, which came with a neat fanny back, was a gift from, noneother than, Jon Segal.
The afternoon was overcast and I plodded along with the usual thought of quitting early. Around mile 3 something very new and not particularly encouraging occured. Instead of my right foot falling asleep, it was my left. I stopped briefly to loosen the laces. It didn't work. I stopped again and took the entire shoe off and relaced. Ah, it worked.
I made it to Lovers (halfway point) and turned around. Here's where it gets good.
I had planned on using the GU around mile 5. I've never used GU. Everybody says it works wonder.s
At mile 5, it started to rain but I felt pretty strong, so I waited. At mile 6, the wind picked up and the rain fell harder, but I felt even stronger, so I waited. At mile 7 I was smiling ear to ear. The rain refreshing. Never had I felt so strong in my training. GU? Who needed GU?
Picking up the pace, I contemplated hitting Mile 8 and turning back around and repeating the entire run. I swear to you, I could have run 16 miles today. I know it. My legs felt strong, there was no pain in my calves or Achilles. I was running exactly how I always imagined I could. And should.
Then, a picture of my daughter at my parents house running amok entered into my head. So I made my way back there, pushing as hard as I could.
After a quick shower, I was back on the couch. My headache was gone, my energy was up, and somehow, in someway, I felt like I had woken from a peaceful sleep.
This is a turning point. I know it. I'm running 12 for sure on Sunday. If I feel this good, I may go longer.
Isn't life strange?

Trail of rage

I have a new Herald running column about incidents of rage on the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail (known to locals as "the rec trail." Read it and be saved. Then email it to all your friends. Avoid it at your own peril.

I didn't run this morning, probably because I'm a bad person. I'll be serving my penance tonight in that hell called the gym.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Like a sex machine.

DistanceTimeRoutePace
12 mi.2:08:16 mins.home-monterey bay aquarium-PG high R/T10:41 mins./mi.


I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt. But many worthwhile things in life hurt. Love hurts (almost as much as listening to the song by Nazareth.) The truth hurts. Feelings get hurt. And running, running hurts, often quite a bit.

Lately, it seems like many of my runs hurt. This morning's was no exception. For the first mile, it was my left leg, low down, from the foot to the knee, up though the calf. But it went away. The next 11 miles were somewhat huffy and puffy, with intermittent knee and calf pain. Much of the time, Marathon Clinic Director Mike Dove's words from last night echoed in my head: "If anything, run fewer miles than the training schedule calls for."

There's no shame in quitting, I thought.

Once again, I considered taking a shortcut home at mile six, which would have cut my run from 12 miles to 7 or so. Once again, I turned around and went back the way I came. And I'm proud of myself.

All this isn't to say that there weren't good moments on today's run. There were. The sun was beautiful, reflecting off big ocean breakers. The weather was just perfect. And on a good stretch, one where I didn't hurt and the running was effortless and everything seemed like it was going great, on one of those stretches, I had eight minutes of James Brown, begging, pleading, exhorting me to take it to the bridge, to hit it and quit it.

As I climb Hurricane Pt. on my way to Bixby Bridge, that's what I'm going to think. Take it to the bridge. Get on up. Like a sex machine.

Anyway, when I finished the run and looked at my watch, I was pleased. I haven't run this fast at distance since the Carlsbad Half Marathon,
and the route I ran this morning has a couple long hills, unlike Carlsbad.

The pace I ran at today is a sniff off my goal pace for the actual marathon. I'm not sure I can do it, but I'll try. I know it will probably hurt. But some things are worth the pain.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The man with two right shoes

DistanceTimeRoutePace
About 332:15 around P.G.WHAT PACE


I planned to run 7 miles last night on the treadmill. I really did. When my day at work was done, I said my goodbyes, moseyed to the car and headed to the gym. I got to the gym, purchased my bottle of water and went into the always awkward lockeroom to change.

(Why is the lockeroom awkward, you ask? Two reasones: 1) Lots of old naked men. 2) Me, in their presence, slathering Body Glide all over myself. Hello Awkward!)

Well, anyway, I got to the lockeroom and began to change. Off with the shirt and pants, off with the underclothes, off with the dark socks. On with the body glide, shorts, and tec shirt. On with the socks. On with the shoes.

Right shoe. Check.
Second right shoe? Check
Second right shoe. Damn.

So I swore. Loud. And all the old, naked, just out of the shower men looked at me with their old, naked, just out of the shower selves. So I did what anyone would do. I struck up a conversation with the closest one. He had a mustache. And several tatoos. I told him what I did, how I brought two right shoes to the gym. He asked me what side of the road I drove on. He asked me if I sat in the front seat to drive my car. I said no, I just own two identical pairs of running shoes and I brought the wrong shoe.

By the time I got home, the gym was about to close and I was too discouraged to try to run in the dark, despite my Star-Trek-looking glow-in-the-dark-flashing-LED-armband. So I took two days in a row off. So sue me.

This morning, I woke up with modest ambitions. Put on the correct shoes. Run for about 1/2 hour. Get ready for work. I'm pleased to inform you all, dear readers, that I was successful in all of these things. Sure, both my legs hurt everywhere through my entire run and I'm not sure why, but the important part is that I was successful. The right shoe on the right foot and the left shoe on the left (right) foot.

Lesson: It's important to set attainable goals in life.

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