Monday, May 11, 2009

Cleveland Marathon now probable / Training week 5/4-5/10

It is hard to believe that Noah is now one year-old. This time last year we were still in the hospital and getting ready to go home. Now a year later, he’s close to walking on his own and is happy as could be. Needless to say, he makes Anne and me very proud and brings us great joy.


When I wrote my previous post, I was pretty certain that a case of hamstring tendonitis would force me to skip the Cleveland Marathon. My concern was that a hard effort at Cleveland would be detrimental as I prepare for the Mohican Trail 100-Mile Run--my key event for the summer. Never could I have imagined then that my hamstring tendon would begin to feel much better and carry me to a 91.6-mile week. So, as of now, I’d say the Cleveland Marathon is looking up--we'll say "probable."

Unlike the 2008 Cleveland Marathon, where I was determined to finally break 3 hours for the first time, I enter this year’s race looking for another sub-3 but ready to adjust my pacing as needed. In other words, if my hamstring starts to hurt, I’ll slow down and go into the finish conservatively.

The problem with my hamstring tendon isn’t one of pain. It’s one of tightness and discomfort. Runners know the difference between discomfort and pain. But over the course of 26.2 miles, discomfort can easily turn into pain.

Last year's Cleveland Marathon was probably my most memorable marathon. After we (Jeff U., Paul R. and I) turned onto the Lake Erie path from MLK Boulevard with about 6 miles to go, I was hurting badly and began to fall back and off pace. At the time we were running with the 3-hour pace group and I’d begun to doubt that I’d make sub-3. The pace leader dropped back a little and put his hand on my back, saying (in these words that I’ve never forgotten): “Hey man, I’m worried about you getting too off pace. Do you think you can pick it up?” Hurting badly, I watched with great distress as Jeff, Paul and the pace group got further and further ahead of me.

But then a funny thing happened. I got a second wind and caught up with Jeff. I was still hurting, but I managed to get back on pace and stay at a good clip en route to a new personal best of 2:58 (Jeff finished with a 2:57). I learned a valuable lesson that day—a lesson I carried over to the Columbus Marathon in 2008. Running a successful marathon comes down to how you manage that final 10K.


Despite my hamstring injury problem, I managed 91.6 miles this week. On Tuesday I went to the track and did 4x1600 at 5:56 pace and experienced a wicked case of dead legs from the previous week’s 108 miles. By the fourth interval my feet were crashing against the track like cinder blocks. Later that night, during a 4-mile treadmill run, I realized something was really wrong with my hamstring tendon. It was super tight and very uncomfortable.

The rest of the week I ran daily (at a semi-relaxed pace) and incorporated nightly ice baths, extra stretching and some ibuprofen. The ice baths worked because my hamstring was considerably better by Friday—so much better that I was able to get in back-to-back 20-mile days on Saturday (trails) and Sunday (Solon Roads) with the Southeast Running Club. I did these 20s with Mohican, not Cleveland, in my sights. Not until Sunday was the Cleveland Marathon back on my mind as a real possibility.

Total miles for week: 91.62
Total miles for month: 144.22
Total miles for year: 1,437.81


A word on ice baths. I can't say enough for the therapeutic efforts of ice baths. Ice baths relieve muscle, joint and tendon inflammation and promote healing in ways direct icing just can't do. If you're hurting and have never tried an ice bath, what's stopping you? Here's you're how-to for ice baths:

1) Get a clock so you can keep track of your time in the tub.
2) Get in the tub with it empty.
3) Have reading material on hand to pass the time (for me, it's usually a running magazine, my Don Allison ultrarunning book or my baseball almanac).
4) Turn on the water full blast cold and let the tub fill up.
5) Lean back and keep your legs completely submerged in the cold water.
6) If you are really bold, add the contents of your ice box to the tub to maximize the coldness.
7) Know that while the first 3 minutes are painful, you will eventually get used to the coldness and it won't even bother you.
8) Soak for 15-20 minutes.
9) Enjoy a warm shower afterward.

Ideally, you want to ice bath right after a run, but because of time constraints in the morning I've been ice bathing at night before bed. Give it a shot.


The goal this week is to taper for the Cleveland Marathon, keep ice bathing and run low mileage. I hope to break 3 hours at Cleveland but we’ll see how the leg is feeling. So far, so good. Assuming I run Cleveland, I'll enjoy a post-race recovery week and then will try to get in two consecutive high-mileage (90-110 miles) weeks before going into a two-week taper for the Mohican 100.

Onward and upward!


  1. Glad to hear you've got that hamstring issue under control. May we both cross that line before the first number turns 3.

  2. Ok, Wyatt! You have officially talked me into trying an ice bath tonight for my hamstring tendonitis that just won't heal. Good luck in Cleveland!