Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Recovering from Mohican

Having now run seven days in a row, including three consecutive pain-free days, I can confidently say my left knee is better than 75%. The last time I felt discomfort was on Sunday, when I ran with the Cleveland Southeast Running Club in Solon, and it was just some minor aches. I completed 7 miles, most of it with Kam, who was very encouraging, and rode my bike to and from Solon for added benefit. I'm still wearing my knee brace as a precaution.

I wish I could say my body is doing just as well as my knee, but the fact is that I'm no where near 100 percent in the aftermath of the Mohican 100. Nearly three weeks have passed since the 100 and I'm still pretty tired. Coming back from 100s takes time, especially when you ran the 100 hard as I did. I imagine I'd be feeling better right now if my knee were healthy all along. I believe active recovery speeds recovery.

I have a friend who's attempting his second Burning River 100 on Aug. 2. He dropped at last year's race (mile 75) due to a lower leg injury. In addition to completing the BR100, he plans to qualify for the Boston Marathon at the Steamtown Marathon on Oct. 12. He's come oh so close to the magical 3:10:59 on a few occasions.

I keep telling him that, while I never tell people they can't do something, it's fairly unrealistic that he's going to recover from the BR100 in time for a successful, all-out effort at Steamtown. Keep in mind that to run a 3:10 he's going to need many quality workouts going into Steamtown. How is he going to do the requisite track intervals and tempo runs when his body is shot from the BR100? Maybe my recovery from 100s is slow and my analysis of his situation is incorrect. I know that right now I would have a tough time running mile repeats under 6:00--this from a guy who runs 5:35 repeats and is pretty durable. My body just isn't ready. Maybe it's the lack of sleep from caring for our newborn, but I think it's really because 100s hurt you badly and require lots of recovery.

As I recently told my dad, the difference between a 100-miler and a marathon is far more than 74 miles. The damage done to the body during a 100, while temporary (in most cases), is significantly greater than the damage done during a marathon. Hundred-milers squeeze every ounce of energy from your body, deplete your muscles of their strength (especially your lower-body muscles), rob you of your speed and leg turnover, and inflict havoc on your joints--far more than marathons, and marathons kick my butt every time.

I think it takes upwards of 8-10 weeks to really come back from a 100, whereas it takes me about 3 weeks to come back from 26.2. I know that at last year's Columbus Marathon I was still feeling the after-effects of the BR100. I couldn't do quality track workouts during August and for most of September. Yes, I was on the track in September, but I wasn't able to hit the times I needed to go sub-3 at Columbus. It wasn't until I was really able to focus on a marathon and put forth the quality efforts that I finally broke 3 (at this year's Cleveland Marathon).

On to other things....

As much as I want to run this year's Buckeye Trail 50K, where I was going to aim for a very ambitious time of 4:15, I've decided to forgo my fourth BT50K and instead pace my friend, Ted, who paced me the last 40 at Mohican and is doing his first race of over 26.2 miles. I'm going to join Ted at the Snowville Road aid station (or maybe even Boston Store if I can get there in time) and run him to the finish. It would be foolish of me to race 31 miles on a knee and body that are not yet 100%. If I had the discipline to just fun-run the BT50K, I'd do it, but I know once the "gun" goes off I'd race it hard, which would be stupid given the current circumstances. I can't fun-run an event; I race because it's what I'm programmed to do.

That said--and I realize this is counter to what I just wrote--I have still not yet ruled out running the Burning River 100 because, well, I just can't fathom not being there. I feel I could complete the distance, but I realize that doing so will mean no sub-3 time at the 2008 Columbus Marathon. If I do line up for the BR100, my goal will be 24 hours or better. I don't think it would be a good idea to race two 100s within six weeks of each other. Maybe I'll pace my friend, who I mention above, for the whole race. That would give me a purpose and keep me in check. We'll see. The $225 I'd have to pay to register at this late date is kind of stiff, but I'll pay it if I have to.

It looks like I'm going to achieve my goal of 50+ miles this week. My goal next week is 60+. Unfortunately, Noah is far from sleeping through the night, which means Anne and I are taking turns doing the middle-of-the-night feedings. Those feedings kick your ass when you're waking up at 5 a.m. for an hour-long run and then have to go to work for the whole day. As much as I hate to scale back my running, the reality is that my mileage and the quality of my runs are going to suffer badly until Noah's giving us 7-8 hours of non-stop sleep on a consistent basis. Until then, I'm in survival mode and will be grateful for every mile I can get in.

Onward and upward!


  1. Very encouraging. You are sounding more positive and optimistic. See you in Solon or on the trails soon.