Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life on the DL...

If you happened to notice my recent lack of blogger activity, here's why:  I'm Injured!!! 

It's been a rough couple of weeks... Lack of running has left me feeling completely unfocused, unmotivated, depressed, and otherwise blah! 

The good news is that I'm starting to feel better.  After 8 days off (minus a 2.75 mile run/walk/disaster somewhere in the middle) I successfully was able to run 5 miles on Tuesday at recovery pace and then another 5 miles today at general aerobic pace. Just getting those few miles in has drastically improved my disposition.

So what exactly is my injury?  Good question... Truth be told, I'm not exactly sure... I have a couple of theories, but all I really can say is that I have a gimp right leg... It might be a quad strain?  I definitely feel some weakness in the quad, but I've found soreness in my groin, inner knee, and hip... also tightness in my hip flexor and ITB...

Not sure if the Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot caused me to modify my stride which led to my gimp leg conditions or if the gimp leg caused the PF or if they're even related at all...

All I really know is that when I ran, it hurt!  Not sharp pain that I could pinpoint but just general tightness and discomfort in all things right leg. 

For a while I ran through the discomfort... I found that if I could make it through 4-5 miles it would eventually loosen up and feel ok... I trained through the pain for 2 weeks, hoping it would improve... it only seemed to get worse... at a certain point I realized that my stride was changing since I was basically limping!!! So, I finally made the tough choice to stop training and let the damn thing heal...

I'm still not 100% but I'm definitely improving...  not sure how this will effect the big picture of my marathon training... I'm hoping I can easy back into it over the next two weeks but I'm probably going to have to cut down a bit on the mileage and intensity... I'm just going to get back to the basics:  Listening to my body, training within my limits, and let the cards fall where they may...Overall, I'm optimistic.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marathon training update (12 weeks left til Chicago!!!)

I guess it’s too late to call this a Marathon Monday post… how bout Training Tuesday?!?

I’ve actually been a little bit swamped with work (which is kinda nice for a change) and with life (also not bad) so I’m going to keep this post brief… Here’s my numbers:

Week 6 stats (2010)                                                                       Week 6 stats (2009)
50.96 miles                                                                                     20.29 mile
8:04 average pace                                                                           8:50 average pace
long run – 18.6 miles                                                                       long run – 9 miles

Looking at the numbers you’d think that I had a pretty good training week last week… and for the most part you’d be right… I had an awesome tempo run: 10 miles at an average of 7:22 including 5 miles at 6:50 pace… I also had an awesome long run: 18.6 miles at 8:13 pace…

My only problem is that my right foot is starting to experience some plantar fasciitis. It started off mild and it’s still not horrible, but running on it isn’t exactly helping it get better either… The good part right now is that it doesn’t really bother me too much during my runs (except for a little at the beginning)… I’m just wondering how long that’s going to last.

For now, I’m planning to just keep running on it while at the same time applying an aggressive treatment strategy of icing, stretching, and denial…

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm Rick James, Bitch!!!

My blog recently received a generous shout out from da "redhead" on her blog where she wrote:
"if you don't follow Ethan, you should, cuz he's absolutely friggin' hilarious!"
Over night, my blog followers swelled to a record 71*...  Which is to be expected since "Caution: Redhead Running" is the 17th most popular running related blog on the Internet**

I'm honored by the complement... but at the same time I'm terrified...On one hand, I'm one of the funniest, smartest, and humblest people I know... but on the other, can I really continue to produce the brilliantly witty prose that you people yearn for, day in and day out?!? 

Suddenly, I have expectations to live up to!  In hindsight I wish that I had the foresight to declare my site boring from the get go; then if I happened to write a clever post on occasion it would be a pleasant surprise... but alas, I didn't, and now the pressure of these expectations is becoming a lot for this Champion to shoulder...

...Hopefully I can take it... If not, I guess I'll be forced to quit the blog and run off to South Africa, Dave Chappelle style...

*Technically 70 since one of the followers is me...

** I totally made this up... but I figured that since I built up my legitimacy as a premier blogger researcher with my "Origins of Three Things Thursday" post that I can now make up random facts about blogger and people will believe them...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cardiac Creep

Yesterday I headed out for a recovery 4 miler.  I had my heart rate monitor in tow because I'm a big proponent of using heart rate training zones, especially during recovery runs (otherwise, I inevitably wind up running too hard).

When heart rate training I normally use the Karvonen formula (%intensity/100*(Max HR - Resting HR) + Resting HR) so I can base my training levels off of my heart rate reserve .  

Since this was a recovery run I was targeting an intensity of <70%... plugging my personal heart rate numbers into the formula I get  .7*(193-43)+43 = 148... so the goal for this run was to keep my heart rate under 148.  

So I'm going along for about 5 minutes at a perceived pace that seemed excruciatingly slow but when I look down at my heart rate monitor it says that my heart rate is already over 150... so I slow down a tad and focus on really taking it easy but then I look down at my heart rate monitor again and my heart rate is approaching 160!

At this point, I'm going about as slow as I'm willing/able to go.  Not only that but I feel great!  So I keep a level effort and finish out my run... but by the end my heart rate is approaching 170!!!

Here's the caveat to this story: it was 92 *F out with heat index of 101 *F, and subsequently I was experiencing an acute case of cardiac creep...

Cardiac creep is a phenomenon that happens during hot weather conditions when your heart works extra hard to increase blood flow to your skin so that you can sweat and cool off.  Essentially, it's a biological radiator.  Additionally, as your body expels water in the form of sweat, your blood volume reduces and your heart needs to work even harder to get the required amount of oxygen to your exercising muscles... or to put in in layman's terms:  a little man aka "the Cardiac Creep" with a cartoon sized sledge hammer was bludgeoning away at my heart!!!

So what does this all mean???  Basically it means that heart rate training zones are meaningless in extreme weather conditions and that you're better off sticking to perceived effort... It also means that I wasn't over exerting myself during my recovery run (which my final pace seemed to corroborate)... on the other hand I'm skeptical that doing anything outside during this heat wave can really be considered recovery?!? 

Final lesson learned:  I'm running today's tempo run inside on the treadmill!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marathon Monday (3 months left addition)

Lucky number 13 weeks left... I hope I can take it!

Running the razors edge…

One of the most difficult aspects while marathon training is finding just the right recipe of hard work and recovery… Train too hard and you’ll find yourself hobbling across the starting line, injured and over-trained. Don’t train enough and you’ll find yourself hobbling across the finish line, injured and under-trained. Somewhere between these two extremes lies the delicate balance that will deliver you to race day with a strong and sound body capable of reaching your current potential.
I try to “listen to my body”… it’s just that often I find myself telling my body to “Shut the F*ck up!!!”… which brings me to my predicament now: I’m 13 weeks out from my marathon, I still have the majority of my training ahead of me, and my body is already starting to feel like certain key muscles, ligaments, and tendons are being held together by duct tape… I have some very mild plantar fasciitis in my right foot, a dull pain in my right quadriceps, and a knotty left calf…
The good news is that all of my various aches and pains… hopefully nothing a couple of days off will fix… which is why I don’t feel guilty (okay, maybe a little bit guilty) when I tell you that after finishing up my 17 mile long run on Saturday, I decided to take Sunday and Monday completely off… hopefully my body will thank me tomorrow as I head out for a 10 miler.
Training update

Lots of slow, suffering, shuffling, 90+ degree miles…started off Tuesday with a 10 miler, then recovered with 4 on Wednesday before tackling a 7 miler on Thurday which included 6Xhills in the middle.  Took Friday off, and then ran my long run of 17 miles on Saturday before another day off Sunday. 

So that's four runs and three days off... more than I usually take but with the heat and my beat up body I'm still happy to get almost 40 miles in.
Chicago 2009 training comparison flashback

Week 5 stats (2010)                                                      Week 5 stats (2009)
38.11 miles                                                                    26.52 mile
8:27 average pace                                                          7:50 average pace
long run - 17 miles                                                          long run - 13.1 miles (Joker's Wild - half marathon)

Just over a year ago I ran my first half-marathon!

Look into my crystal ball

First 50+ week planned for this week... hopefully the extra days off last week will help me meet my target this week!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The many faces of daily mile

Rant of the week... What's up with those faces on Daily Mile?  If you're a Daily Mile user than you probably know what I'm talking about... if not here's the 411...  Whenever you enter a new workout in Daily Mile the program asks you "How did you feel?"...  And then you answer by choosing from a variety of emoticons...

The gripe I have is that the intention of the descriptions and faces just don't seem to align with the way I actually would feel during training... here, let me give you the break down so I can explain myself better...

Here's the face you get if you felt "great" during a run... but how often do you feel "great" during a run? I might feel great about a run or after a run, but the only time you'd ever see me running along with a big shit eating grin plastered on my face is maybe during my last week of marathon taper when I'm totally rested and intentionally running at recovery pace anyway...  I guess I'll call this one my taper face (sounds like some kind of depraved sex act you'd find on

This next face is what you put down if you felt "good" during a run... no real gripe with this one, except this is probably more of the face I'd have if I felt "great"... It's not that I don't like smiling, in fact I smile quite a bit... just not when I'm running, and certainly not ear to ear!

This face is what you choose if you felt "Alright", and here's where my problems really start to escalate... Does that dude look alright to you?  To me, he looks like he just dropped his ice cream cone or his puppy ran away... and my problem with this one doesn't just end with the face... I just don't like their use of the word "alright"... ask me on any given day how my run went and I'd probably answer either "not bad" or "alright"... to me, an "alright" run is a successful run... after all, I'm not skipping through a flowery field with a  bluebird on my shoulder... I'm marathon training goddamn it!!!

This is the face you choose if you were feeling "Blah"... I guess the description is okay... I mean everyone has those days where they just feel blah... on the other hand I actually have "blah" days scheduled into my plan... they're called recovery days and they're put there specifically because I know I'm going to feel blah... for instance I just ran a particularly hard interval session on Tuesday so I'm going to run a 3 miler at recovery pace on Wednesday since I'll be feeling blah... so since it's part of my plan I don't like the way Daily Mile is insinuating that "Blah" is a bad thing.... also what's up with the face?  The "Alright" guy... he looks blah to me... the "Blah" guy?  I've seen that face before... He looks like he's about to crap his pants!!! (shout out to Adam over at "the boring runner" on this one)
And then there's tired guy...  first off, is that guy sweating or is he crying???  somebody get him a Kleenex... and for god sakes man, suck it up, the run couldn't have been that bad...  Also... what do you mean tired?  If I just finished a tempo run, or interval run, or medium long run, or long run, or race then you're damn right I'm tired!!!  Once again, I feel like Daily Mile is insinuating that being tired is a bad thing, when really it's kind of the point of what I'm doing... I mean honestly, if I get done with a quality work out and I don't feel even the least bit tired then I probably didn't push myself hard enough!!!

Finally there's injured face... Looks like this guy took either a stick to the eye or sustained some kind of head wound... either way he probably shouldn't be running... now, I guess it could be an injury that didn't affect his running in which case I don't see the relevancy of including it in a running log... on the other hand if this is refereeing to an actually running related injury, then once again, HE PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE RUNNING... unless of course it's just a minor ache and pain type injury... the type that inevitably comes with the territory of being a runner... in which case I could probably use this face every freakin' day, effectively rendering it meaningless... basically, no matter how you look at it, this one is completely moot!!!

Anyway, to wrap this post up I'm going to leave you with some suggestions for some emoticons that might actually fit my mood after a run a little better... take em' or leave em' Daily Mile

exhibit A: exhibit B: exhibit C:

exhibit A:  I just finished a killer speed work session emoticon

exhibit B: maybe I had a bad run... maybe I had a great run... maybe a dog attacked me... or maybe someone stopped me and asked me for directions while I was running... doesn't really matter why, but sometimes I just finish up a run full of irrational anger which takes 2 or 3 minutes of recovery to dissipate. 

& exhibit C:  Not sure if this one pertains to running, but I think it pertains to me... cuz "that boy ain't right" and neither am I!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Marathon Monday (Tuesday edition)

After a fun but exhausting 4th of July weekend/beer, brat, and chicken wing binge it's time to get my (aching) head back into the game... less than 14 weeks to marathon time!!!


About a month ago the company that I work for announced an inter-office virtual race.  Anyone from the company who wanted to participate could run a 5k and then the top 3 times from each age group would score points for the office "team".    The winning office receives "bragging" rights and gets to hold onto the trophy for a year...

Since then, I've had it in the back of my mind that I was going to run a 5k.  I initially planned on running it 2 weekends ago at a race where several of the other participating members of my office were going to be running.  However, the time didn't work particularly well with my training schedule, plus the race was 45 minutes from my house so I said "screw em'"...

Instead, I settled on a local Peoria race called the Firecracker 5000 because it was only 4 miles from my house, the course was advertised as "Flat and Fast", there was 100 dollars of prize money offered to the winner (I didn't expect to win but I figured it would provide a stronger field for competition), and it fit much better into my training schedule.

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning and ran four miles from my house to downtown Peoria where the race was being held.  Since the race was scheduled for 7:30 am I was hoping for some decent temperatures but as the start time approached the temperature was already creeping into the 80s...

I lined up near the front, the air horn sounded, and we were off... the local elites blazed ahead and I soon found myself in the midst of off-season undertrained high school kids and ex-high school cross-country running college kids.  I did my best to ignore the surging and faltering around me and focused on dictating my own pace.  I hit the first mile marker at 6:00 flat.

The course was essentially an out and back loop with one block separating the out from the back.  The first 1.5 miles we ran from West to East, right towards the hot and blinding sun, so I was relieved when I finally hit the turn around point.  I turned right, headed down a block, and then made another right onto a  walking path that follows along the Illinois river as I finished up my 2nd mile for a 6:10 split.

As I hit the 2 mile point the wheels started to come off.  I think that I can attribute my downfall to multiple factors:  lack of taper, my recent increases in mileage and intensity, the heat, my lack of actual speed work... Regardless of the cause, I was suddenly suffering and my pace slowed down considerably.  "keep going... almost there" I kept thinking to myself, but my legs wouldn't respond... and that's when I totally got chicked!!!  I'm at about the 2.25 mile point and the female winner blows past me...  I briefly consider trying to stick with her, but ultimately just wind up eating dust... leaving me to struggle on to a 6:30 3rd mile followed by the final .1 mile kick to the finish line at a 5:40 pace (where was that extra energy at when I was getting chicked?!?).

After the race I stuck around for the awards and lucky for me I'm only 31 years old so I wound up getting a medal 1st place in my age division! I say lucky for me because I would've came in 3rd if I was between 40-44, and I wouldn't have placed at all if I was between 45-49... I guess I'll need to get fast enough to place overall if I want to get away from the arbitrariness of the age divisions... of course, the top two runners both went sub-16:00 so I guess I have a ways to go.

Final Stats:
Distance: 5k
Time: 19:18 (11 second PR!)
Div. Place: 1/46
Tot. Place: 20/667

Ultimately I've got to call the race a bittersweet success.  On the one hand I PR'd by 11 seconds and took home some first place hardware... but on the other, I hit mile 2 averaging a 6:05 pace and then totally crashed... as the saying goes: in a 5k you run the first mile with your legs, the second with your mind, an the 3rd with your heart.  This time, the heart just wasn't there.  Next time, hopefully it will be, and I'll go sub-19.

Training update

For the third week in a row I got into the gym on Monday for some weight work... My running week began Tuesday with a 7 mile run which included 3 tempo miles @ 6:43 pace.  Wednesday I ran an easy 4 mile recovery run so that I'd be ready for Thursday's moderately hilly, 10 mile, medium long run which I ran at medium hard pace (7:34).  Friday was my usual two mile recovery run with the dogs (find that I actually feel better Satuday if I run 2 easy miles on Friday as opposed to taking the day off).  The four generally base pace miles on Satuday before wrapping up the week with a 12 mile Sunday which included running to the race, racing a 5k, cooling down, and finally running back home.

Chicago 2009 training comparison flashback

Week 4 stats (2010)                                     Week 4 stats (2009)
38.49 miles                                                29.17 miles
7:54 average pace                                      8:13 average pace
long run - 12 miles (plus a mid-week 10)      long run - 11 miles

uh oh... the weeks are starting to look comparable... then again, this week was a step-back week for me this year, and last year it was a step-up week... 

Look into my crystal ball

48 miles planned for this week with a mid-week hill workout and long run of 18.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Race Packet 1up

This quick post is dedicated to Anabela Neves from "It's Life, Max It Out" who recently wrote a race report on the Tim Horton's Peachbud 10k in which she ranted about the contents of the race kit she received...  more specifically she said that she was:
"disappointed in the actually race kit......It was a reusable bag, a magazine and yes there was also a yard waste paper bag... And the magazine is actually a magazine about triathlon......why would I want that! This was a 1K, a 5K and a 10K race."
I suppose she has a point about the magazine thing... then again, I suppose that at least some of the runners also probably participate in triathlons so the magazine was at least close to reaching the right demographic...

I reference this because I picked up a race packet today for the "Firecracker 5K" that I'll be running tomorrow in downtown Peoria, and I also was a little bit surprised by the magazine contents of my race packet...  Check it out:

Like Anabela, I'm a little confused why I would want the self proclaimed "world's largest gun sales publication!"...
But then I remembered that it was a 4th of July race... so I figured what better way to honor our countries independence then to celebrate our 2nd amendment rights by carelessly firing semi-automatic rifles into the air?!?

Oh Well, HAVE A HAPPY 4th of JULY!!!