Sunday, July 5, 2015

Marathon Training Continues

On July 3rd, I set out for a 17 mile run. The weather was perfect, 65 and sunny. Cool for July, but excellent for running. To avoid having to run on a main road, I decide to rack up as many miles around my house as I could before I set off on the real adventure. Having a destination to run to is more fun than just running in circles. My destination was a small lake named Stanley Lake at the top of a mountain.

Loaded down with 42 ounces of water, Hammer electrolyte drink, and some honey stingers, I first ran up the road and stopped just short of a major hill. I then ran down the road past my house and turned onto a dirt road. Once again I ran to the start of the big hill (same hill, just different road), then turned around and ran back. By the time I got to the start of the real run, I had racked up six miles. That left just 11 to go.

The Endless Mountain of Pennsylvania.
Living in a very hilly area, I really can't avoid the hills if I want to go anywhere. After a two mile uphill run, I turned right onto a dirt road that would take me to Stanley Lake. Dirt roads are great. They muffle the sounds of my feet and are usually tree-lined and peaceful. Only one car passed me the entire time. I saw several deer, a fox, and million of butterflies.

Stanley Lake is a 30 acre lake with a  limited number of homes and cottages around the lake.  Being 4th of July weekend, there were lots of people mowing yards and starting cookouts. The smokey smell of hamburgers and hotdogs was in the air. At the end go the lake, I stopped to take a picture and empty another water bottle. I was at mile 12, but had quite a bit of water left. The temperature had gone up a little bit there was a slight breeze and it felt great.

Stanley Lake
Getting to Stanley Lake had been mostly downhill. This meant the return trip would be mostly uphill.   I walked the steepest hills and took my time on the downhills. At mile 14, I was back on the paved road and had several small, but steep hills to negotiate. I again walked the worst of them, but chose to run the downhill. This may have been a mistake because by the time my watch beeped 16, my quads were sore and tight.  At mile 17, I pushed for two more tenths and then called it good. My 17.2 mile run was complete. I was still a half mile from home and slowly walked the remaining distance.  Walking after a long run really helps the legs feel better the next day. This is something I did not do last year and had very sore legs for two and sometime three days after. I also did very little walking. Just waking for 20 to 30 seconds gives the legs a break and makes the run more enjoyable.

My next long run will be 18.2 miles. Because I'm only doing a long run every other week, I have a little time to plan out my next destination.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Race Bling

Race Medal Holder Complete with Race Medals
I ran my first race on May 6, 2012 at the age of 47. It was a 5K and I finished with a time of 30:36. I knew there were awards for winners, but I never paid any attention to them because I was way too slow then to even be in the top ten for my age group. I also never intended on running another race. I had signed up for the 5K as motivation to start running, but never thought I'd want to run with a group of people again.

In July, I ran my second 5K and finished with a time of 28:41. The improvement in time was enough to make me sign up for another race. By the end of 2012, I had run 12 races and improved my time to 26:15.  I had yet to win any kind of award, but had come in fourth for my age group.

In 2013, I ran a very chilly and very snowy 5K called Cupid's Chase. My time was 28:08 which was terrible, but everyone ran terrible and I managed a first place age group win and a medal. My first medal.  By the end of 2013, I had four medals.

In 2014, I again won the Cupid's Chase with a time of 24:59. My medals were starting to accumulate.  I looked into race medal holders, but they were expensive - $40 to $50.  I could run two or three races for that amount of money. So I did what many people do and put some hooks in a piece of wood and hung up my medals.

Last month I added two more medals to my collection for a total of 19. I again looked into race medal holders which were still $40 to $50 for something decent. I found a plastic one with a female running figure on top for $18, but it wasn't much better than my strip of wood. 

I saw a lot of very nice homemade medal holders on runner's blogs and thought about buying the supplies to make my own, but the cost was still around $20 and I still had to make the thing. I just needed something "nice" to display my medals. It didn't need runners or inspirational words or anything on top. It just needed to hold medals.

A search of "hangers" and "hooks" on ebay brought up all kinds of holders for coffee cups, towels, coats, ties, and hats. An antique store had a very nice wooden tie rack for $15 which I nearly bought, but everything in my house is wood. Then I found an interesting metal towel holder for $10 which looked perfect. I read a review of the holder on Amazon where people said it wasn't the best towel holder, but I wouldn't be using it for wet towels. It measured 18 inches which was just right for the 22 inches of space available on the wall over my work desk. The seller was offering free shipping and had a great rating. Several mouse clicks later, the hanger was on its way and is now mounted on my wall. 

If you are interested, it is called a Sweep, Five Hook Holder. It comes in three different colors. You should be able to find it for around $10. For the price, it is a great race bling holder.

June Races

For June of 2015, I ran two 5K races. Both were evening races. Although I usually run after work, running a race at the end of the day was kind of strange. I was tired and just wanted to go sit and relax, but I had a race to run.

Paul Kearns
The first race was a fundraiser and memorial for a guy named Paul Kearns. I graduated high school with some of the Kearns family, but Paul was five years older than me and I didn't really know him.  He died from a battle with cancer at the age of 55 and was well known in the community.

The race was an out and back, flat course that I have run many times. Rain was predicted, but never showed which was good. The temperature was 82 degrees, but it felt hotter. 140 runners showed up to pay their respects to Paul Kearns. I started out the race fast, like I always do. By mile two, I was dying from the heat and humidity. Apparently, so was everyone else. I finished with a time of 25:36 which was good enough for 18th place overall and third place female. I have run this course much faster so I was kind of disappointed with my finish time. One thing that I am slowly learning is that every race will be different.  Weather, time of day, the number of runners, it makes every race different even if I've run the course 10 times before.

The cost of this race was $15 which usually means bananas and water. Being a fundraiser, I wasn't expecting much. I hadn't eaten dinner because I didn't want food in my stomach, so I was hungry.  When I walked up to the food table, I saw a hungry runner's dream spread. Pizza, subs, bananas, oranges, watermelon, bagels, popcorn, cookies, brownies, and water. And piles of it! There was so much food runners were encouraged to take food home. Many organizations had donated food for the event. The awards for this race were great. In addition to the usual age group awards, there were awards for the most courageous runner, first 5K, anyone who set a PR (not me), and the half way point runner (number 70).  A far as 5K races go, this one was excellent. I think Paul Kearns would have approved.

My second evening race was part of a strawberry festival in the town of Owego, NY. This race has gained in popularity over the years and attracts about 700 runners and walkers. This was my first time running this race as I usually don't like any race associated with a festival. Too many people and nowhere to park. The place I found to park turned out to be perfect because when I got out of my car, there was a $20 bill on the ground.

Like most races, this race featured a one-mile kid's run which took place before the 5K race.  There were over 100 kids in this race.  When it was time to line up for the 5K, I was surprised to see so many kids lined up with me. Some of these kids were little and unfortunately, at the front of the pack.

Part of the attraction of the strawberry festival is fireworks at sundown. The fireworks company was setting up in a park not far from the start line. Apparently they needed to test some of their fireworks. As the race director was explaining the course and rules of the race, a loud kaboom came from the park. Many runners thought this was the start of the race and suddenly we were all running. I found this slightly amusing. For the first mile, I was dodging kids who had no idea how to run. This was not amusing. They were zigging, zagging, stopping.  The rest of the race was better and it was actually a nice run through the streets of historic Owego. Toward the end of the race, there were groups of teenagers who were cutting through lawns and acting like idiots to get ahead of each other. For as large as this race was, there were very few road marshals. I did my best to ignore the cheaters. My finish time was 24:54. There were a lot of turns in this race and I lost time at the start trying to avoid all the zig-zagging children. This race was also huge - 816 finishers. I was running with other runners for the entire race. There was never a spot where it thinned out and I was on my own. Having no idea how I placed, I fought my way to where the results were posted. Most of the people were gathered around the sheets at the end. I was happy to find my name on sheet two which had me at 119 and third for my agree group. The age groups for this race were strange, 46-50. Being at the end of the age group, I was happy with third place. The two ladies who beat me where less than a minute ahead of me so I did good. I also got a finisher medal for this race which is always nice.

The after-race food was nothing special.  There were too many people milling about and pouring in for the fireworks so I left before the traffic got any worse and went out for a late dinner at a quiet restaurant on the day home.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Marathon training

Last Sunday, despite the threat of rain, I set out to run 14.5 miles as part of my marathon training.

As I have mentioned in the past, I live in a very hilly area. To get to anywhere remotely flat, I have to run downhill, which means eventually running uphill to get back home. Since I wasn't racing or trying to set any kind of record, I didn't think the hills would be that big a deal. I could even walk them if I had to.

The first big downhill, legs feeling good.
The run started out with a gradual uphill on a paved road that lead to a dirt road. I don't run this dirt road very often and forgot how steep it is. But since it was the start of the run, it was no big deal. At a mile and a half I crested the hill and started going downhill through the woods and that was kind of nice.

At two miles, I reached a major road which has a fairly wide shoulder. This is where I would be doing most of my running. Being a Sunday afternoon, there wasn't much traffic.

These calves ran with me for a short distance.
Knowing I am prone to dehydration, I carried four small water bottles and some honey stinger gels. At the four mile point, I took my first drink. I recently read a quote that said, "Run the mile you're in." It's so easy to get caught up with trying to rack up miles that I'm always thinking about the next mile. So I tried to take in my surroundings and just become one with the mile. Most of my run was through farm country and I saw horses, cows, sheep, tiny goats, turkeys, and a flock of geese. Some animals ran from me, but a few ran with me as far as they could. I also saw some humans out doing what humans do. I stopped to take a few photos. Something I almost never do because stopping just feels wrong when I'm supposed to be running.

Glancing at my Garmin runner watch, I saw the time was 1:45 and I was running between a 9:20 and 9:45 pace. The route I had chosen was a loop and I would soon be coming to one of the steepest hills in the area that leads me back home.  The name of the hill is Irish Hill and when I saw the sign for it, my brain thought "Yes, almost home." Almost home meant over five miles of hills to go.

I really thought I could run up Irish Hill. I've done it before, but never at the end of a long run. I made it about 2/10ths of a mile up and then decided to walk. That hill is a killer and it goes for almost three miles. I walked and ran until I was finally up the hill. Some runners will say hills make you stronger. Not this hill. This hill eats runners.

Goose crossing.
At mile 12, I still had two big hills to go. My feet now hurt and my knees were feeling a little rubbery. When I hit "Cemetery Hill," I decided to walk that too. These hills were getting ridiculous. At the bottom of "Schuller Hill", the last hill on the run, I encounter a family of geese crossing the road. I had to stop and wait for the geese to move to one side of the road because mother goose was not about to let me pass. She spread her wings and hissed at me until her youngsters were rounded up. The break was appreciated by my legs and I set out with renewed energy to conquer Schuller Hill.

Schuller hill in the distance.
I made it half way up Schuller Hill and then fatigue set in and forced me to walk the steepest part. I have a love/hate relationship with Schuller Hill. It signifies the last hill of any run, but it is deceptively steep and I am usually dying when I reach the top. At the top of Schuller Hill, I had just over a mile to go and it was all downhill to home. Usually I race down the back side of Schuller hill, but today, my downhill muscles were kind of shot and I wound up shuffling along rather slowly. The last mile took me over 10 minutes to complete.

But then I was home. The Garmin watch announced a total of 14.48 miles and I will admit I was glad the run was over. This was my longest run of the year.

The next day, my legs were a little sore. The day after that, my quads were killing me anytime I had to go downstairs or down hill. The day after that, everything felt fine. I was able to do my usual 4.3 mile run with minimal soreness. And then on Friday, I ran a 5K race. More about that in another post

The marathon training program I am using has me doing a long run every other weekend. So this weekend I will probably do a six mile run and then get ready for a 17 mile run next weekend. The hardest part will be finding 17 miles that doesn't end with five miles of hills. I'm not doing that again.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I'm back

Towards the end of last year, I lost interest in this blog. Not being able to run the marathon put me in a bad frame of mind and I wasn't even sure I was going to continue running in 2015. Then winter came and lasted FOREVER. There was still snow on the ground in March. I did keep running because I was able to defer my marathon entry to 2105 and decided I would give it one more try. Now here it is end of May and the mornings are still cold, but at least the snow is gone and everything is green again.

Here is a short summary of my 2015 accomplishments so far:

For January,  I ran three of the four January Freeze 10Ks. One day it was snowing like crazy and it didn't seem worth the risk of getting to and from the course. My times for the 10K races were 52:23, 52:19 and 49:59.  The January Freeze only recognizes first, second, and third place finishers for all the races in overall and masters. You have to run three races to qualify and then your best times for the races are combined. People travel from all over to run these rather boring, and very cold races. I am in the 50-59 age group (AG), but there are a lot of fast ladies in their 50s. On the last day, I did not stick around for the awards because I didn't think I had a chance at anything. It was also very cold and the awards are presented outside. Turns out I won first place masters. That was exciting. It also made me feel like a runner again.

In February, I traveled to the town of Tunkhannock, PA (where I lived for a short time when I was a kid), and ran a 5K called the February Freeze. It had snowed a few days before, but the day of the race it was clear and almost sunny. I'd never run this race before and didn't know what to expect. When I got to the race, I discovered part of the race would be run through knee-deep snow. The race director had tried to plow a path, but the plow truck got stuck and couldn't go any farther. So the runners in the front would be plowing the way. This was a hard race. We had to run single file through the high snow. I got behind a slow runner and had no choice but to run slow. The course eventually hit a dirt road which was also snow covered. My time was 27:32. Good enough for an AG first place and third female overall. The after-race festivities were great. It was held inside a school (where I attended first grade), and there was lots of warm food. Food after a race is always good and most of this food was homemade. Nice little race and worth the drive.

In March, I found myself in Yuma, AZ for work. The weather was nice, but being away from home was not. I really don't like traveling. I was able to get in a 10K race while I was there so at least I did something fun. The course ran along the Colorado River and out into the desert. Running on sand is much like running on snow. My body was not used to the sudden climate change (hot and sunny) and I found myself dying from the intense sun and the heat. I stopped at almost every water stop and walked several times to complete the race. My time was 52:40 and I got a second place age group win. The company hired to do the timing totally screwed it up which was strange because it was a chip-timed race. The after race festivities were in a beautiful park and there was lots of fresh fruit.  

I also ran a 4-miler race in March (32:08, third place AG), and a very hilly and tough 15K race (1:21:52, second place AG).

In April, I ran one 5K race which was a benefit for a police officer who had been killed in the line of duty. Over 500 people showed up to walk and run. The course had a lot of rights and lefts and a steep hill at the end. My time was 24:02 and good enough for a first place AG trophy. This race only gave out trophies to the first place finishers which seemed a little mean. I don't know how race directors come up with awards, but some don't make much sense. The goodie bag for this race was nice. All kinds of nice stuff and coupons. And it was a real goodie bag that I can add to my cloth shopping bag collection (no paper or plastic for me).

In May it was once again time for the Greater Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon which I have run twice before. This year I was determined to PR with a time of 1:49:something or better. I started off the race great and was running a smooth 8:10 pace. Then at mile 10, something bad happened. I am somewhat of a shallow breather and often get side stitches and start wheezing when I push myself. I had just finished a long hill and was on the flat when suddenly, I couldn't breathe. It was like someone had punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. I went up on the sidewalk to get out of the way of other runners. A road marshall came to my rescue to see if I was OK. I had no idea if I was or not. I wound up walking for over two minutes and when I could breathe again, ran the remaining three miles at a much slower pace. My finish time was 1:53:something.  I was very disappointed.  I later leaned my diaphragm muscle had gone into a complete spasm from dehydration and just running too fast. Dehydration, my old friend. I should have carried water because the water stops on the race were terrible. I had grabbed water starting at mile four, but the cups only had a gulp or two and there was no way I was going to run back for more. So lesson learned. Carry water for long races.

Also in May, I ran a hilly and challenging cross country course 5K in Meshoppen, PA (26:09, first place AG win) and a back to back 10K/5K race in Sayre, PA. I have had a few opportunities to run a 10K/5K and never had the confidence to do it. Well, I did it and it was hard for a couple of reasons.

The 10K race was no problem. I finished with a time of 50:16. Not bad. I then had 40 minutes until the 5K start. I went back to my car and changed my socks, shirt, and put on my 5K number. I did some slow laps around this small park near the start of the race. My right hip was stiff and both calf muscles felt tight. I kept walking and running until it was race time. And then I was off and running again. My legs were not happy about this, but after half a mile, I found a comfortable race pace and just kept running. And then something bad happened. At the one mile mark, a train was crossing the tracks that went through the middle of the course. A train? Who makes a course with active train tracks in the middle? I came to a screeching halt and had to wait for over two minutes while the train lumbered along. This allowed half the runners to catch up and wait as well. Finally the train was through and I tried to take off running again, but my rhythm was off and my muscles had tightened up. I managed to finish the race, but never got a steady pace going. My time was 27:24 thanks to the train.

There were 57 runners in the 10K and 189 in the 5K. 14 crazy people ran both. Somehow I managed a first place AG win for both races. Amazing. I'm quite proud of myself for running both races, but I will never do it again. I will also never run that race again. The entry fee was $43 for both races and I walked away with nothing. People who preregistered a month in advance got a shirt and a chicken BBQ lunch. I preregistered a week in advance, but that wasn't good enough. There were also no AG medals which was disappointing. I entered the race with two friends (we all ran both races and we all won an AG award), but only the top three overall finishers got awards of some kind. There was a finisher "medal" that was made out of cardboard and would have been great if I was five years old, but for an adult runner, it was kind of embarrassing. And I wound up with two of the things. So no shirt, no BBQ chicken, no AG medal, a train on the course, and a goodie bag that was nothing more than an envelope with some coupons that can be found anywhere. Oh, there was a cookie from a local place in the envelope and there was watermelon, oranges, and water after the race, but that was it. I know organizing a race isn't easy, but this was the second year for the race and for $43, AG medals would have been nice. I've run $10 races with better food and awards. OK, enough whining. I accomplished my back to back 10K/5K and moved myself up a notch as a runner.

For June through September, I will be concentrating on racking up miles and time in preparation for the marathon in October. I am using a totally different training program this year and hopefully won't injure myself like I did last year. I may run a couple of my favorite 5K races, but marathon training will be my main focus. I gotta do it this year.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Marathon training injury

I just ran five miles and nothing hurts. This is quite an accomplishment because for the last  three months, I haven’t been able to get past three miles without my knee killing me.

Let me fill you in on what has been going on with my running.

My last post was in June and all was well. My marathon training was on track and I was steadily increasing my weekly mileage. On June 24th, I ran a very hilly 20K and finished with a time of 1:49:15. My time was a few minutes better than the year before so I was happy. On July 4th, I ran a very hilly and rather challenging 10K with a time of 50:51. This course is out in the country and follows dirt roads, gravel roads, and about two miles of wooded trail. I had run the race last year and wasn’t sure if I would ever want to run it again. But as the race drew near, I found myself signing up. I managed a second place age group win and now think this might be one of my favorite races. It’s a tough course and the finish line is at the top of a steep hill. I felt like I was going to die around mile five, but crossing that finish line was fantastic. The next day was Saturday and rain was forecast for Sunday. Even though I had just run a 10K, I decided I could still do a long run. I wanted to do at least 18 miles.

When you train for a marathon, you have to learn to pace yourself which means running slow. Slow for me is a pace of 9:40.  You wouldn’t think running slow would be hard to do, but it is. I would look at my watch and see 8:20 or 8:15 or sometimes 7:55. “What’s the hurry?” I would ask myself. “You’re not racing. SLOW DOWN!” Runners talk to themselves a lot. On my long runs, by mile 14, I was usually tired because I had started out too fast. By mile 14 I would have to take a short walk break or just slow way the hell down and finish the run in an embarrassing shuffle.I was getting better at running slower, but had a ways to go.

On that particular long-run day, the one after my 10K, my right hip started to hurt at mile 15. A year ago, I hurt my left IT band training for a half marathon. I was able to fix it by backing off my milage a little, using a foam roller, and doing tons of stretching and strengthening exercises. By race day, I was good to go. I’d never had a problem with my right leg before. My right leg was always the good leg.

Because I am a runner, I kept running despite the pain in my right hip. I only had a few more miles to go. By mile 16, I was limping and now my knee hurt. Luckily I wasn’t too far from my car at this point and decided to stop and hobble to my car. I did some stretches and drove home. The next day, my right leg hurt from my hip to my knee. What had I been thinking? I’d just raced a 10K. I should have rested, not try to run 18 miles. 

So I rested for three days and then went out for a three-miler. There was a slight twinge in the hip, but nothing too bad. I dug out my foam roller and found all my old IT band exercises and started doing them again. They had fixed my hip before, they should be able to do it again. On my next five mile run, the IT band pain flared up and spread to the outside of my knee. With my left leg, the pain had stayed in my hip. 

The next day, my knee was stiff and hurt. Runner’s knee? A few days later the knee was fine and I went for a three mile run. No problems, but I decided to skip my weekend long run. I still had plenty of time before my marathon.

The next weekend I decided I was OK to run 17 miles. At mile 10, the hip started to hurt. At mile 12, the knee started to tighten up and hurt. But I pressed on. By mile 15 I was done. Every leg muscle on my right side was tight and throbbing. After doing some research, I decided to take some time off from running. A week was all I could stand and after a thee mile run that was mostly pain-free, I signed up for a 5K race.  On August 8th, I ran one of my favorite 5Ks with a time of 24:09 which was good enough for a Master’s win. I was worried about the IT band and the knee, but everything felt great. Thinking my IT band might be fixed, I started increasing the milage. At this point, my marathon was two months away and the the farthest I’d ever gone was 17 miles. I needed to hit 20 for mostly psychological reasons. If I could run 20, I could run 26. But If I couldn’t get to 20, then I’d never be able to get to 26.

On August 14, I ran a 5K with a time of 24:05 and on August 23, I managed a time of 23:29. I was able to run a 5K just fine, but when my run went past 28 minutes, the pain would start. This confirmed that it was my IT band and not runners knee.

I bought an IT band strap, but it did nothing. I bought a knee sleeve and a knee brace that was supposed to help. They helped a little, but after eight miles, I was unable to run any farther. The pain in my knee was like an ice pick. With the marathon nearing, I saw a sports chiropractor. She confirmed my IT band was ridiculously tight and tried some massage and manipulations, but time was running out. Unable to get past 10 miles without being in pain, I deferred my marathon to 2015. Marathons are not cheap and I didn’t want to just throw it away.

I cut my milage back to 12 miles a week and never ran for more than 28 minutes. Anything beyond that made the knee throb. I foam rolled, I did every IT band exercise I could find. The problem seemed to be my glutes. They just weren’t firing when I ran. I sit for a living. I sit in front of a computer all day and even though I get up every few hours, it’s not enough.

With the marathon out of the picture, I researched the glute muscles and how to get them to wake up. Weak glute muscles make everything else work harder. My quads were doing all the work which was making my IT band tight which was making my knee hurt. In a way, there was nothing wrong with my knee, it was just the weakest link in the chain.

$100 Gift Certificate for a First Place Win.
On September 14th I ran a 23:34 5K and the knee felt great. But I wasn’t going to be fooled. The glutes were still refusing to participate.

My marathon came and went and all I could do was look up friends’ times. A lady I had planned on running with finished in five hours and 36 minutes. Another friend finished in just over four hours. The glute research continued.

I watched training videos, I did exercises, I changed my running form. I made sure my foot was going straight down and that I was landing mid-foot. I shortened my stride and increased my cadence.

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to try for four miles which would put me past the 28 minute danger zone. I strapped on the knee brace, which seemed to help a little, and headed out. The knee brace has velcro straps that go around my knee and hold it in place. At one point, the tip of the strap hit my left knee. I hadn’t pressed it down all the way. This happened several times. I had to stop and redo the strap so it wouldn’t dig up my bare leg. Then I realized something. That strap shouldn’t be anywhere near my left leg even if it was sticking out a little. If my feet are pointing foreword and I’m running along, my knees should be a few inches apart. The brace added maybe half an inch to my right leg. For the rest of the run, I concentrated on keeping my feet, knees and hips pointing straight ahead. I completed the four mile run in 38 minutes and the knee and hip were fine.

I’ve seen knock-kneed runners run. Their knees cave in and their feet go out. They look weird, but somehow they can still run. Was my right knee caving in when I got tired?

A few days later, I tried for four miles again. This time I thought about the position of my legs for the entire run. Feet straight, knees straight, glutes firing on all cylinders. Again, no pain.

Today’s five mile run is the farthest I have run in a long time. I completed it in 48 minutes. At one point, my inner thigh/groin area started to hurt, but that went away when I moved toward the center of the road.

Am I fixed this time? The exercises, the change in form, the reduced mileage, is it working?

An IT band injury is usually an overuse injury. I thought I was training smart for my marathon, but apparently I wasn’t. I’m going to do the five mile long run three more times before I push toward six. And only when I can comfortably run six will I try for seven.

I’ll be 50 years old next year. I really wanted to run a marathon before I turned 50, but I guess running a marathon at age 50 will have to due.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Run Like the Wind

I have read that the definition of an elite runner is a runner who believes he or she can win. Not come in second, or first in their age group, but first for the entire race. The first male or female to cross the finish line.

Last month, I was an elite runner.

Having not run a 5K race in awhile, I decided it was time to find a 5K to see if I could still run fast. I am training for a marathon so my running style has changed quite a bit. I am now trying for distance, not speed. This means I have to run slower. Which is harder than it sounds.

So I woke up early Saturday morning and headed to the race. It’s a course I’ve run several times, very flat out and back. It was a fundraiser for the local zoo. Good cause even though I don't like zoos. Too sad to see animals pacing in cages.

Approximately 100 runners showed up. I was happy about that. I like to see a good turnout for a race because it makes all the work that goes into organizing a race worth it, and it lets me know how good or bad I’m doing. It’s hard to judge how well I really did when only 20 people show.

My plan for this race was to just run and not look at my Garmin. When I glance down at my time, I am either freaked out by how fast or how slow I am going and alter my pace. For this race, I was just going to run like the wind.

I lined up just behind the front runners and off we went. There were a number of young guys in front of me who all took off at the speed of light. Then there were a few slower runners who I quickly passed. The next runner in my way was a guy dressed in blue who kind of ran like a pony. Clomp, clomp, clomp. He wasn’t a big guy, but he sounded like he weighed 500 pounds. I passed him because I found his running style annoying. That turned out to be a mistake because he tucked in behind me and started clomping faster. Determined to get away from the clomper, I ran faster. He couldn’t keep up and the clomping faded a little. Next thing I knew the front runners were coming back at me. I counted five, then two more, then two more. I made the turnaround and headed back to the finish line. I was in 10th place with just the clomper behind me. I kept on the lookout for the first female still coming up on the turnaround. Finally I saw her, a young, thin girl who looked like she could really run if she wanted to. She was probably three-tenths of a mile behind me. She could be waiting to make her move for the second half of the race.

I did a quick assessment of my body. Legs - good. Lungs - good. Heart - good. A young guy came up along side me and slowly passed me. I was now in 11th place and the next female was probably gaining on me. I kept running.

When I got to within a half mile of the finish, I heard the clomper gaining on me. Determined to not let him or anyone else pass me, I gave it all I had. I would either win or run out or energy. I was running to win.

My time across the finish line was 23:02. The clomper wasn’t far behind with a time of 23:12. First female, yes! The second female was several minutes behind me.

First place and new PR!
This race had medals for the winners. I like medals over cheap plastic trophies. I proudly accepted my medal and a $10 gift certificate.

After the race, the clomper found me and said “nice race.” We talked for a few minutes. He was an older guy wearing a Boston Marathon shirt. He had run the 2104 Boston Marathon and said it was his last. He was getting too old for marathons. I told him I would be running my first marathon in October. I asked him if he had any advice for me. “Don’t go out too fast. You can’t bank time in a Marathon.”

I defiantly won’t be trying any elite moves in my marathon training, but it’s nice to know I can run like the wind when it comes to a 5K.

23:02 was a new PR for me. Now I have to break 23:00 before the running season ends. It's good to have goals. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It's Been Awhile

I guess it has been awhile since I have written here. There’s only so much that can be written about running before it becomes boring and repetitive. Maybe the same can be said about running itself which is why I have chosen to run a marathon this year. It is in October and I am very excited about running it.

I will start with a quick summary of my 2014 running season.

In January, I ran the January Winter Freeze series which is a 10K race held every Saturday in January. The first race was canceled because it was insanely cold. This was a really cold winter. The race was canceled for the volunteers who have to stand in the cold and not for the runners. I ran three out of the four races. My best time was 50:48. That’s better than last year.

January Freeze 10K. I'm the one in fluorescent green.

Running the very cold
Cupid's Chase.
I kind of 5K’d myself out the last two years and decided I was only going to run a few 5Ks this year. I picked the Cupid’s Chase 5K in February because I really enjoyed it last year. I didn’t enjoy it as much this year. I did get a first place age group win and a medal. My time was 24:something. The temperature was 8 degrees and I had a hard time breathing. It was colder than any of the January Freeze races.

In March, I ran a little four-miler and won overall female for that race. It was a really windy race an there were spots where it felt like I was going backwards. My time was 30:something. 

5K in Arkansas. I'm the one in black.
In April, I was in southern Missouri for work and would be there over the weekend. I found a race in Arkansas to run. It was on a small campus of Arkansas University. There were only 50 people, but it was a fun little race. The actual distance was 3.3 miles and my time was 25:something. I came in fourth overall which I thought was pretty good. I guess I’m fast in Arkansas.

My finisher medal.
My next race was the Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon which was last weekend. Last year, this was my big race for the year and I trained like crazy for it. This year, due to a lot of cold and snowy weather, I didn’t train as much and felt very unprepared for it. It was supposed to rain the day of the race, but it didn’t. Instead, the wind blew like crazy. This was a hard race. I have been battling hamstring injuries and at mile nine, the right hamstring started to hurt. At mile ten, the left hamstring and foot started to hurt. By mile 11, I really wanted to quit running, but that would have been really stupid with only a few miles to go. At mile 12, adrenaline kicked in and I was able to finish the race quiet strong. My time was 1:51:14. I wanted to beat my time of 1:53:03 from last year and I did. So I was quite happy and the ham string pain was quickly forgotten. My legs were a little sore the day after, but I was fine the next day. I guess I am in better shape than I think.

At the finish line of the Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon.
So now marathon training begins. I know I can run a half, but I have to start running smarter if I want to go 26.2 miles without dying at the end. I need to hydrate better, and run slower. I ran a nice steady pace for the first seven miles in the half, but then I started slowing down with each mile after that. Of course, running into the wind didn’t help.

It’s beautiful outside today and I’m going to try to go for a nice, leisurely ten-mile run. I need to find that perfect cruising speed where nothing hurts and I can just run forever.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Accomplishments for 2013

According to I ran 917.8 miles in 2013. Work and injuries got in the way of a lot of good running days this year.

The following is a list of my races for 2013. I don’t plan on running nearly this many races in 2014. For 2014, I need to somehow increase my mileage. I have signed up for a half marathon in May and a full marathon in October. I’m not too worried about the half because I ran it last year, but a full marathon is a new level of training for me. 26.2 miles, crazy!

Cupid’s Chase – 28:08 (Snowy!) (1st place AG)
Run for Your Heart – 24:30
Robert’s Run – 24:35
Walk, Wag, Run – 24:05
Parlor City23:27 (1st place AG)
Kelly LaBrre – 23:51
Invictus – 24:02 (Master’s win)
Women’s Distance – 24:00
Super Hero – 24:56
Chris Thater – 24:02 (1st place AG)
Bell of Hope – 25:21 (Hard course)
Saint James – 24:47
Santa Run – 23:55 (1st place AG)

January Freeze 1 – 58:09
January Freeze 2 – 55:53
January Freeze 3 – 56:33
January Freeze 4 – 57:46
Montrose Independence Day – 53:37 (Hard course)
Octoberfast – 51:50 (2nd place AG)

Chenango Forks - 1:28:53 (Very hilly course, ran with an IT band injury)

Vestal XX – 1:50:26 (Hard course!)

Binghamton Bridge – 1:53:06

Saint Patrick 4-miler – 33:49

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Winter is here and has been here for a few weeks and is showing no signs of leaving. I try not to let the cold weather interfere with my running, but it's hard to get out there when it's windy and only 20 degrees.

I ran the annual Santa Run 5K on Sunday. There were over 700 runners. That's a lot for this area. The start of the race was chaos. Lots of people in the front who should have been in the back. I got boxed in at least five times before the crowd started to thin out. I have run this course many times and know where my slow points are. In any race I run, there are parts where I kind of doze off and just run without paying any attention to my time. Then I wake up and start racing again. When I downloaded my Garmin, I was happy to see that I ran my usual slow parts well, but unhappy to see that I dozed off in a different section. My finish time was 23:55 which is excellent despite the dozing. I placed 106 out of 760 and received a first place age group win.

I have one more race this Saturday which is also a holiday-themed race. The forecast is for snow. I have raced on snow before, but it's tricky. This will be my last race for the year. Having run in road races for two years now, I think I have 5Kd myself out. I enjoy the racing part, but I am really bored with the 5K distance. I prefer longer races - 10K, 15K, half marathons. Unfortunately, most races around here are 5Ks.

 For 2014, I am going to focus on distance running. The longest I have ever been on my feet is 2:20 and that was months ago. Sunday is long runday for most runners. When spring comes, and the danger of slipping on ice or getting hit by a snowplow are gone, I'm going to start running some serious distances.