Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Troubles will come and they will pass" / Training week 2/16-2/22

In over five years of distance running I don’t think I’ve ever struggled physically as much as I’m struggling now. You’ll recall that two weeks ago I was down and out with a nasty virus that sapped me of my energy. Then I rebounded the following week, logging 81 miles as I began to feel upbeat again. Then there was another very unexpected punch to the gut this past Tuesday afternoon when I suddenly fell ill from a truly heinous stomach virus. I was 18 miles into the week when the bottom fell out.

What was supposed to be a quality 85-mile week turned out being a worthless 51-mile week with zero quality workouts. I couldn’t run a step on Wednesday or Thursday as I recovered from the virus. On Wednesday I used a sick day--the first time in a few years I've actually used a sick day for myself. Not until Friday morning was I out again running, and even then it was a struggle as I still felt out of it.

Right now I feel tired and sapped—depleted of that something that makes me who I am. Usually I can go, go, go! Nothing stops me. I ran 15 miles on Saturday in South Chagrin Reservation with Ted F., Tim C., and John K. and could barely keep my eyes open the rest of the day and was unable to make the surprise birthday party for my friend and fellow SERC club member, Steve G. The next day, Sunday, I ran 10 semi-hard miles on my treadmill and could barely keep my eyes open driving back from the airport after dropping off my visiting parents, who also came down with this nasty virus during their stay with us.

When I look at my spring and summer racing schedule, I can't help but feel a little discouraged. I’ve more or less put a competitive time at the Lt. JC Stone 50K in Pittsburgh on March 21 out of my mind and may just forgo that race altogether as I regroup mentally and physically. I’m definitely not on track for a good spring marathon, either. As for the Mohican Trail 100-Mile Run on June 20-21, it is just shy of four months away and by now I should be well into my training…but yet I can’t seem to stay healthy. Unless I can pull it all together really soon and stay functionally healthy the rest of the way, I may have to adjust my goal for Mohican from a very competitive time of 18 hours to just finishing within 24 hours.

Running, like life, is a roller coaster ride. There are ups and there are downs. This is a down right now. It’s a movie I’ve seen many times, and I know that the ending will be a happy one if I stay positive and recognize that “this, too, shall pass.” I'm down and out now but I'll be back. From the song “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynard: “Troubles will come…and they will pass.”


Assuming I can stay healthy, my goal for this week is 85 miles with quality track and tempo workouts. After a long, drawn-out process that gave many of us (including the service technician) a headache, my treadmill appears to be back up and running so I should be able to get in my intervals and tempo run should the conditions outside not be favorable. We’ll have to see.

My treadmill needed the following major parts: new front roller, new deck and new tread. All of these problems originated from a bad front roller that ruptured the tread. And when you have to replace your tread, you also need to replace the deck. Thank goodness all of these parts were covered under the warranty.

While I'm disappointed I was without my treadmill for close to two months, I know it's been a good, reliable machine on the whole. It's given me three years of good work. Like any machine, it needed some maintenance. Hopefully this will be it for a while because I need my treadmill to get in 100-mile weeks. It's great for second runs of the day of 4 or 5 miles.


Right now, with February coming to an end, I'm aiming to just survive through March and enjoy the spring. The thought of running shirtless through the parks, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the spring and taking in the sun is almost enchanting. I know I speak for almost all runners and outdoor enthusiasts when I say that spring can't get here too soon.

Aside from running this spring, I can't wait to get the yard looking good again and taking Noah on walks, and we're planning a bonfire/campfire in April (really it'll be just a fun way to burn lots of sticks and branches that have fallen over the winter from the wind, and should the "authorities" show up this will be a campfire, not a yardwaste fire) that I know will be fun with Noah and Anne. Maybe I'll invite over some friends and we can break out the marshmellows and enjoy a few tall, cold ones (and maybe some hot dogs, as well). The point is, spring needs to get here, and it needs to get here fast, damnit!

Hopefully my next report will be a positive one in which I recount a successful 85-mile week with mile repeats at sub-5:50 pace and a kick-ass tempo run.

Onward and upward!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Battling a bug / Training weeks 2/2-2/8 and 2/9-2/15

The week of 2/2-2/18, when I was supposed to run 75 miles, was basically a total loss. On Tuesday morning I woke up feeling the onset of what I thought was a cold. No problem, I thought. I've run through many, many colds and I'll run through this one. Wrong! It was no cold. It was some nasty virus with an awful upper-respiratory component. I knew things were going badly when on Wednesday it took me 1:04 to run 8 miles--8 miles I was trying to run at 7:30 pace.

So by Thursday, even though I continued running through awful fatigue, respiratory distress, total weakness and nasty body ache--all of which signaled System Failure--I more or less threw in the towel and chalked up the week as a total loss. I ended with a paltry 51 miles and no speed-work or tempo running.


Now for the week of 2/9-2/15, which ended today. My objective was 80 miles as I continue gradually increasing my mileage with a plan of going north of 100 miles for the first time this season sometime in the next 4-5 weeks barring any unforeseen set-backs. My plan is built around the Lt. JC Stone 50K on March 21 in Pittsburgh and the Mohican Trail 100-Mile Run the weekend of June 20-21.

Anyway, this week started kind of rough as I was still battling the after-effects of this nasty virus--namely diminished respiratory capacity, weakness and fatigue. Fortunately, I started feeling better as the week progressed. It went like this:

AM: 5.5 miles easy. Still feeling rough.

AM: 8.7 miles easy. Very cold with a hard rain. Really missed my treadmill as I got home soaking wet and cold.

AM: 9.4-mile outdoor track workout
This was my first track workout of the season. I could tell in my times and in how I felt that this virus was still plaguing me. I ran 3x1600 in 6:02, 5:58 and 6:02. That is VERY slow for me. I've never run 1600s that slow. I think I can cut 15-20 seconds off those times next week. We'll see. I'd like to be going south of 5:40 by mid-April.

AM: 8.5 miles easy
No power, speed or strength in my legs. Just dead. I remember thinking as I was climbing the Washington Street hill that I felt as though all the energy in my body had been sucked out of me.

AM: 9.05-mile tempo run1
My legs felt a little sore and tired but I still managed a decent tempo run--my first since October. I averaged about 6:40 pace for 5 of the 9 miles and felt pretty good when I finished.
PM: 6.5 miles during lunchtime down MLK Blvd. and back. I saw a dead dog--very sad.
Total miles for day: 15.55

AM: 14.03 miles with the Southeast Running Club in South Chagrin Reservation
I ran the first 7 miles with Tim C., Tom A. and John K. and then finished up with Tim C. The trails were awful--very icy and the worst part was that some of the icy spots were covered with snow, making them virtually invisible. Toward the end I fell hard on some snow-covered ice that was at least 2 or 3 inches thick. I think Tim thought he'd have to call 911 because I fell hard. I remember thinking when I got up seeing stars and feeling pain in my back that I would be feeling this tomorrow.
PM: 4.14 miles around the neighborhood at about 7:00 pace
Total miles for day: 18.17

AM: 15.1 miles in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
All I needed to get to 80 miles for the week was 15 miles for the day. I'd have liked to get in a 20 miler but I didn't want my weekly mileage to increase too much, too soon, plus Anne and Noah were sick and I needed to get home. I dropped the hammer on Liberty Road and ran miles 7 and 8 or my run at 6:08 and 6:09, blowing past Steve H. only to get beaten to the water stop by one of the cross country kids.

Total miles for week: 80.92
Total miles for month: 152.6
Total miles for year: 424.69

Unfortunately, Noah is really sick. My primary focus this week will be on helping take care of him. If I can get in 85 miles for the week with speed-work, a tempo run and maybe a 20-miler, I will be very happy.

I learned last May when Noah was born that as a dad I have to take running day by day. I can't plan. All I can do is my best. All I can do is adjust. Family has to come first. As far as how well-prepared I am for the Lt. JC Stone 50K and Mohican 100, we'll just have to see what happens between now and then. This might just be an off year for me.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Back in the saddle again / Training weeks, 1/19-1/25, 1/26-2/1

I haven't posted in a while because life's been pretty busy. A busy man's an honest man, I once heard.

Well, the cold and snow continue to be major factors. I've talked with many lifelong Clevelanders who say this is among the snowiest winters they can ever remember. At this moment, as I write, freezing temperatures threaten the deep south, especially Florida, there's more than a foot of snow in my yard, and Kentucky has been attacked by ice. I seem to remember someone saying the globe was warming. Hmmmm.....


I continue my core and upper-body strengthening exercises. I've gotten some great exercises from the February issue of Runner's World, in which Olympic sprinting great Lolo Jones is featured doing various core exercises involving her abs, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, hips, etc. As I continue these exercises, with careful emphasis on strengthening my hamstrings to prevent reinjury, I can't help but notice a difference in my running. I just feel more stable.

The week of 1/19-1/25 served as my final "rest" week. I ran 60.81 miles, braving some nasty elements. On Wednesday morning when I started my run at 5:30 a.m., it was 5 degrees outside. Yikes!

That reminds me: My treadmill should be fixed by now but unfortunately the wrong roller was ordered and so now I have a few more days until it's back up and running. Right now I'm running fast outside when the weather cooperates--an opportunistic runner.


The week of 1/26-2/1 started kind of slow and was supposed to be my final rest week, but I got the itch to get started on my high-mileage training early. The week went like this:


AM: 8.5 miles on country roads. Feeling great, I ran miles 7, 8 and 8.5 at sub-7:00 pace and finished strong.

AM: 8 miles in the Chagrin Valley. It was very snowy and the roads were horrible. An epic blizzard was hitting. Despite trying, I wouldn't even be able to get to work that day.

AM: 8 miles in the Chagrin Valley. Once again, I combated very snowy roads, along with fierce wind.

AM: 9 miles down in the Chagrin Valley along River Road. For the second or third day in a row my right hip really hurt--likely a case of bursitis. I've fought occasional hip bursitis for the past three years and this feels like it. The roads were very snowy and slowed me down quite a lot.

AM: 16 miles in South Chagrin Reservation with the Southeast Running Club
The temperature was a cool 10 degrees. With the trails still blanketed by over a foot of snow, Tom A., Tim C., John K. and I ran along River Road down to the Polo Field and back. They left as soon as we returned, so I headed out solo--iPod in hand (actually attached to my pants)--and ran a very snowy all-purpose trail up to Solon Road and back. With exception of some hip pain now and then, I felt great. I'd decided prior to this run that I wanted to go north of 70 miles for the week.

AM: 17 miles in Solon with the Southeast Running Club
The weather was fantastic. Although the thermometer read 30 degrees, it felt like 50, and we had plenty of sunshine to boot. I didn't have a lot of time to work with as Anne had a baby shower to attend, so I got to Solon early, running 5 miles solo, and then completed the final 12 miles with the group. I felt great until about mile 15, but still managed to hold together. The pace for the entire 17 miles was 7:24.
PM: 4.15 miles on country roads near home--easy pace.
Total miles for day: 21.15

Total miles for week: 70.75
Total miles for month (January): 271.79
Total miles for year: 292.94

My goal for this week is to go north of 75 miles, gradually increasing my weekly mileage with an eye toward 100-mile weeks by late March, and try to get in some quality running. As I write this post, I'm fighting an awful cold or maybe even the flu and my temperature is over 100. Getting 75+ miles in this week might be difficult, but I'll give it the old college try.

Keep rocking!