Thursday, October 26, 2017

Running on Empty

Great, now that song is going to be stuck in my head all day.

I haven't updated here in a long time; nine months or so.  I was posting very regularly for a while and then just stopped.  So what happened? Well, a couple things happened. One horrible thing and one thing that was just bad.

The horrible thing was the passing of my father in law.  That pretty much took away my enthusiasm for writing, running and life in general.

The bad thing was another injury.  This time it was my hip flexor.  As usual, I felt the injury coming on but chose to ignore it and/or pretend that it wasn't happening.  I limped along for a week or two but when I finished a 20 miler on March 1st and had to pick up my leg with my hands and put it in the car, I knew I was done. No spring marathon. No chance to BQ for 2017.  This was the second marathon that I have trained for since Boston 2016 but had to drop out due to injury during training.

From there I went to see a PT doc who gave me some exercises to strengthen my hips.  I stuck with that program for a while and cut my miles way back. Glancing through my running log, it shows that I didn't run more than 5 miles for 6 weeks and I didn't do a run of 10 miles until mid August.  The hip injury never really healed 100% but I've learned to live with it.  Getting old is such a joy.

As a substitute for running, I've thrown myself into music.  I joined two bands at the Frederick Rock School and have been having an absolute blast learning songs and being in bands.  I've played a couple shows at Champions with the school and got to sit in for a song with my son's band at a gig on my birthday.  A couple weeks ago, Olde Towne Tavern brought in 5 of the adult bands from the school to play.  That gig was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to more opportunities like that.  At the same time, I miss being able to run a lot of miles. 

For a long time, "runner" was how I self-identified. I don't feel like a runner anymore most of the time.  Except when I'm running.  When  I'm running I start having thoughts about getting back into peak shape, starting a training regiment, and run a marathon.  Then a few hours later I'm back to feeling indifferent about it.

I'm currently "training" for the Across the Bay 10K on November 5th.  This race has been on my bucket list for a couple years now.  It's a 10K race (duh) across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  I haven't done much in the way of training though. I decided to take it a little more seriously about 3 weeks before the race but then immediately came down with a cold that sidelined me for a few days.  I've been jogging 10K on my lunch hour this week and I plan to run 8 miles or so this Saturday. That'll have to do.  I tell myself that I can just do it as a "fun run" but I know that once I get out there I'll push the pace as hard as I can.  If I can squeak out a 7:30-7:45 average I'll be happy.

Ok, enough rambling from me. Go find something more interesting to read. It shouldn't be difficult.

Monday, February 6, 2017


I'd like to tell you a little about my father in law Danny, who passed away a few weeks ago.  Danny was a part of my life for more than thirty years and it's hard to imagine a world that doesn't have him in it. Although he wasn't in the best of health, Danny's passing was sudden and very much unexpected.  No one saw this coming.  Danny had more than his share of health scares in the past, but he always bounced back.  This time was different.

You often hear people complain about their in-laws; they meddle, they judge, they complain. I have no such complaints.  I've been blessed with in-laws that are loving, supportive and positive.  Even when I first showed up at his house as a skinny teenager driving his daughter around on a motorcycle, Danny was nothing but nice to me.  Sometimes his niceness was disguised as giving me a hard time about anything from the way I was dressed or how bad I was at playing cards but it was always said with a grin or a laugh.  Kidding around and giving people a hard time was something Danny was very good at.  It was pointed out to me early on that was how you knew Danny liked you and you only need to worry if he stopped teasing you. Danny was able to find the humor in just about anything.  It's not a surprise that as I look through all the pictures of him that the family recently compiled, in most of the shots he is laughing.

As much as he joked around, Danny was a no nonsense kind of guy when it came to working on something.  If you asked him to help you with a job, your doorbell would ring at 7:00 sharp and you had better be ready for him or you'd hear about it.  He worked hard and efficiently, seldom taking breaks for longer than it took to open a fresh Pepsi.  He was an expert painter, but there really wasn't much he didn't know how to do and he enjoyed sharing his knowledge and experience. More than once, Danny bailed me out on home improvement projects that didn't go quite according to plan.  I got some good natured ribbing along the way, but always with a laugh and a smile.

Mostly, I admired Danny because he did what he needed to do, even if that meant making big changes in his lifestyle.  As a younger man he was a drinker.  When he decided he needed to leave that life behind, he stopped drinking and didn't look back.  A life long smoker, he had health trouble in his 40's that resulted in bypass surgery. The doctor told him if he didn't want to end up back in the hospital or worse, he needed to quit smoking. He quit cold turkey and never smoked again.  Years later he was told that he wasn't getting enough exercise so he started walking daily, a regimen he maintained for the rest of his life.  The thing is, he didn't really WANT to do any of those things at the time but he recognized what needed to be done and he did it.  I try to adopt that mentality when I can, but I complain more than he did.

In the short time since his death, I resumed marathon training with very little enthusiasm.  More than once I've found myself in the middle of a workout with thoughts of quitting.  Thinking of Danny and his work ethic has helped me to keep plodding along.  My enthusiasm is slowly returning but when I'm just not feeling it, I think about Danny and I do what needs to be done.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Marathon Six - Week Eleven

Week eleven of the training plan looks like this:

Sunday, Rest or cross training
Monday, General aerobic + speed 7M w/ 6x100m strides
Tuesday, Lactic threshold 11M w/7M@HMP
Wednesday, Rest or cross training
Thursday, Medium long run, 12M
Friday, Recovery 5M
Saturday, Long run, 20M


Weight: ha ha ha ha ha!

Health: I have a new pain.  The front of my leg, way up top.


Sunday - Rest day

Monday - I ran the 7 but wasn't in the mood for strides.  I ran 5 easy and then the last 2 at MP (7:51, 7:39).

Tuesday - Lactic threshold, 11M with 7 @ HMP.  I was feeling very negative about this run.  I got to the 4 mile mark and decided I wasn't going to try the HM pace part.  Then I got to the 4.5 mark and changed my mind.  For the last 7 my splits were 8:06, 7:38, 7:30, 7:27, 7:21, 7:30, 7:22).  Not exactly HMP for the whole thing, but I felt pretty good about it.

Wednesday - Rest day.

Thursday - I developed a sore spot on the bottom of my left foot after the speedy run on Tuesday.  I decided I bike for 1:40:00 instead of running the 12.  I watched a movie called "All the Way".  The movie is the story of Lindon Johnson, as portrayed by Brian Cranston. It was very good!

Friday - 5 easy miles in the neighborhood.

Saturday - 20 miles on the C&O canal towpath.  Some of it with a group of runners from the Steeplechasers.  All of it with my running buddy Linda, who is a wonderful training partner.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Marathon Number Six - Week Eight

Week XXXX of the training plan looks like this:

Sunday, Rest or cross training
Monday, Recovery + speed 7M w/6x100m strides
Tuesday, Medium long run 12M
Wednesday, Rest or cross training
Thursday, Lactate threshold 10M w/6M @ HMP
Friday, Recovery 5M
Saturday, Long run 20M


Weight: Still afraid to look

Health: Improved. My back is hurting less than it has been and my stupid toe is finally starting to heal.


Sunday - Because of Life, I had to push my long run from last week to Sunday.  18 miles in 10 degrees. The air was cold but still at the start, the wind decided to pick up about half way through it.  This run would have sucked in a major way if it wasn't for a couple of foolish great runners from the Steeps that wanted to get some miles in.  I ran three miles on my own before meeting up with them. Together we took a tour of Windsor Knolls, Holbrook, Loch Haven and a couple neighborhoods that I don't remember the name of.  The area where I live is surrounded by roads with narrow to non-existent shoulders and vehicles traveling at high speeds.  So to get in a run this long you either run a lot of loops or visit a lot of cul-de-sacs.

We kept the pace very slow and I got through the first 15 miles just fine.  For the last three I was having a lot of pain in my left foot.  I thought that it might blister but the next day it felt fine, so I'm not sure what the issue was.

Monday - I needed a rest day after the 18 miler on Sunday, so I took a rest day.

Tuesday - 7 miles, but no strides.

Wednesday - I ran 12 miles at work on my lunch break.

Thursday -

Friday -

Saturday -

Friday, January 6, 2017

Marathon Number Six - Week Seven

Week Seven of the training plan looks like this:

Sunday, Rest or cross training
Monday, Lactate threshold 10M w/6M @ HM pace
Tuesday, Recovery 4M
Wednesday, General aerobic 11M
Thursday, Rest or cross training
Friday, General aerobic + speed 7M w/ 8x100m strides
Saturday, Long run 18M


Weight: I'm afraid to look. I ate all the food over the holiday weekend.

Health: Pretty good. My back still hurts more than it should and that stupid sore on the top of my toe won't go away.  I bought some corn cushions to tape to my toe. That seems to help.


Sunday - New Years Day party at my house. Lots of food and a few beers.

Monday - I decided Sunday night that I wasn't going to do the 10M lactate threshold run on the schedule.  I was feeling a little burned out and tired. The cost of a few late nights in a row.  Instead I decided to flip a few things around on the schedule and do an easy run Monday and attempt the lactate threshold run on Tuesday.

The funny thing is that once I got out, I felt great! I don't know if it was just because the pressure was off since I decided against the hard run, or just because I had the day off of work.  I find it interesting that sometimes you go into a run expecting it to be bad and it turns out to be wonderful.  The words "I think I'm falling in love with running again" actually crossed my mind at one point.  I considered just going ahead and running the whole 10 but I didn't have my phone with me and I didn't want Cindi to worry when I didn't come home on time.  I added a mile because I was enjoying myself so much.

Of course sometimes the exact opposite happens.  You feel good, the weather is perfect and you have new shoes that are broken in to exactly where you like them best.  Then you start running and feel like death the whole time and wonder why you bother with such a stupid sport. The running gods are fickle.

Tuesday - The lesson for this run is to never put off for tomorrow what you could do today.  The light rain and drizzle that was so enjoyable on Monday was replaced by a cold steady rain on Tuesday.  I was on campus at White Oak and didn't have much flexibility in my schedule so waiting for after work wasn't an option. Around 12:30 I checked the weather and the radar indicated that the rain was passing soon so I headed out the door.  The cold and wet was a bit of a shock to the system and I immediately had thoughts of the fitness center for a run on the  treadmill.  Then I remembered what day it was. January 3rd, the first day back to work for a lot of people and peak "Resolution" season.  Treadmills are in high demand even when the gym isn't packed with n00bs.  Even if I was lucky enough to find one unoccupied I wouldn't be able to hog it for 90 minutes without getting the stink-eye from people waiting.  Besides, where is the glory in running on a treadmill and watching TV when you could be outside suffering?  So I opted to suffer; and suffer I did!

Part of my usual route through campus takes me on a short "out and back" section of an unpaved trail. I should have just skipped that part but being a creature of habit, I ran it anyway. It was there that I ran through what seemed like a lake and my shoes and socks absorbed about 100 pounds of water each. Again, I questioned my decision making skills.

The plan called for 10 with 6 at half marathon pace.  I like to use the phrase, "the plan called for..." because it takes the blame off of me.  I didn't choose to run 10 miles in the rain, THE PLAN MADE ME DO IT!  Anyway, I decided it would be very difficult to try and run at tempo in that kind of rain so I decided I would just do 10 at easy pace and be content with that.    I started having thoughts about cutting the run to 5 miles and just picking up the missed miles on my rest day.

Then, rather abruptly, as I approached the 4 mile mark the rain stopped.  I took that as a sign that I should give the tempo stuff a shot and picked up the pace.  I didn't hit HM pace in my water logged state, but I ran at marathon pace for the last 6 miles.  I even had fun for a while.

Wednesday - I considered switching my rest day to Wednesday after the hard run on Tuesday but the weather was too nice.  I jogged 11 miles with some friends at work who kept me company for about 6.  The relaxed pace was just what I needed and getting the run done put me back on schedule.

Thursday - Snow in the forecast and travel plans for Friday so I did the Friday workout on Thursday. I wasn't in the mood to do the 100M strides so I just ran the last mile hard and focused on my form. Close enough!

Friday - Rest day.

Saturday - Another rest day. I don't like taking two rest days in a row, but it can't be helped. I will spend 3.5 hours on the road so running isn't going to fit in to the plan.  Hopefully it will make the 18 miler that I now have to push off until Sunday a little easier.