Run #M161 - 5 miles - 9/30/14

Duration: ~58:00

Distance: ~5.47 miles

Rate: 11:21 per mile

Did you miss me?

Yes, I’ve been out an entire week! I would’ve been a bit more scared about starting up again if I didn’t think I could handle slipping back into the rhythm again, but I knew it wouldn’t be a problem.

So what happened? Well, just over a week ago, our AC failed. If you’re in any other part of the country, this is probably not a big deal. You may, in fact, forget to repair it until the temps swell in May or June. Not in Phoenix, oh no. If your AC dies shy of November here, you better get used to sleeping in 90F heat, because that’s what I did. Oh yes. So, I lost sleep. I lost a lot of sleep. The first “night”, I woke up with the sorest throat. I thought it was just a bad case of dehydration, but it turned out to be a summer cold that waited until the first day of fall to kick my butt. And so it did!

So between those two things and a nasty trailing case of nasal congestion, I was out of running for a while! But today was the day I’d return. Since the SeeYas I’d been using for casual wear finally bit the big one, it came time to shift the hierarchy down, so these became the new runners:

I got these off a summer sale a few months ago, but the laces really pissed me off. I didn’t even want to bother with them, but they were only $40, so why the hell not? I was losing money not buying them. They’re fine, though. I prefer the big Lugz-style strap on my Vibrams, but I don’t need to do any super-elaborate tying here.

So I was on my way on a short five miler and I’ve set myself up for a ten mile long run on Thursday. I was fast out of the gate and boy was I super excited to get running off the launchpad again. No nerves, just sweet release. RunKeeper decided to crash out entirely a mere thirty-three seconds into my run, so I had to start over, but I caught it early enough that it didn’t cause me much of an issue. I’ll need to reboot my phone ahead of the long run.

Conditions were ideal. It was a cool 65F when I started, warming to 70F when I finished. Between how crisp my legs felt and the cool air, it actually felt like I was running back in Colorado again. The run went smooth, however, I stabbed the ball of my left foot on rocks several times, which made for some owee-booboo time on the exit mile.

Good run! Great to be back in it in the four weeks leading up to my next Half! I’m super tempted to switch my sleep schedule back to afternoons again so I can get stuff done. I miss it.

See you on Thursday!

Run #M160 - 8 miles - 9/21/14

Duration: 1:44:54

Distance: 8.78 miles

Rate: 11:57 per mile

This run didn’t go quite as planned. In fact, this will be “The Run Where N Had To Pee”.

Now I usually have to pee after most any other run, anyway. Sometimes, right away! But coming into the first mile on this run, which was going way too fast (no doubt learned from its slightly older brother, M159!), I needed to pee a lot. Thankfully, the detour was slight, but it meant I never quite felt right for the remaining six and a half miles.

After yesterday’s fast run, something in the back of my shoulder started to disagree with me and so lifting my arm beyond flat out meant some uncomfortable pain. I haven’t experienced upper body pain in a while, but it has weighed on me a bit since I woke up and definitely during work lifting and moving things. By the time the run came around, it had become a muffle, but I realize now why I’ve been having issues with my right arm going numb during longer runs. That’s some new therapy I’m just gonna hafta learn.

I wanted to do 11:30 this run for real, but like I said, after my pee detour, I just couldn’t quite get back into it. I also decided, as a result of said detour, to do mirrored versions of many of my legs, which meant some different elevation changes than I was used to. I found myself huffing and puffing often and it was not the funnest!

Still, I’m happy, primarily, that I ran eight miles. Like I mentioned last week, these mid-week runs have been a pain in the butt for me to pull off and I know I’m going to be better off in the long run for getting them done. Five miles on Tuesday!

Run #M159 - 5 miles - 9/20/14

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Duration: 58:27

Distance: 5.5 miles

Rate: 10:38 per mile

No, you’re not reading those numbers wrong and yes, that is my speed demon face (MUAHHAHAHAHAHAAHAH, etc.). I wanted to go fast today (about 11:30/mile), but it wasn’t long into the first mile that I decided to shoot for a sub-hour five-miler, including warmup. I didn’t feel the wear until the fourth mile, which is the only thing I really felt because it was a cool, non-threatening 77F and the run was pretty much a blur otherwise. As it listed off milestones in five-minute chunks, I started to pick up the pace in the exit mile, at a point doing some crazy, sub-nine-minute pacing as I rushed back to the house. I was pushing air in and out as if it were via five-gallon buckets. I did feel my right knee twitch a little under the stress, but as soon as I finished, I did my stretches. I wasn’t sore otherwise, not really thirsty or tired, just… I was good. Great, even!

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Turns out, this was the fastest five-miler I’ve ever done by three seconds per mile. The only faster run in the 4-6 mile range was a four-miler I did with fifteen seconds shaved off per mile. That’s frickin’ ridiculous. It’s absolutely no wonder, as you see from the chart above, that my legs just fell apart in the weeks after my first half-marathon run on May 1.

Tomorrow’s going to be much slower with the eight-miler, so I’ll see you then!

SEPTEMBER 2014 MARATHON PROGRESS REPORT

From here, it’s as if I can see the curvature of the Earth. What started fourteen months ago as a fat-to-fit project has changed my entire life. This month, I put down the registration money for the Arizona Rock N Roll Marathon on January 18th, 2015, which will be my first full marathon. That means, barring some absolute cataclysm, that there will only be three more of these progress reports before I recap my marathon run and begin the long process of writing the book about this entire adventure so that people can experience the entire thing with me without needing to plow through this blog or my Facebook posts or what have you. (I actually started last year filling in a lot of background info, but have put it aside since then so I can be in there here and now).

It won’t be my last marathon, either. I plan on doing another full run at the end of February, the Phoenix Marathon, which was the race I’d intended on running in the first place. In a month and a half, I’ll also be doing another half, but at a park nearby.

This month we went back home to Colorado and I ran the American Discovery Trail Half-Marathon and despite the altitude and more radical shifts in elevation, training in the harshness of the Phoenix summer made it a push-over, even if I was just maintaining a 11:30-12:00 pace. It was there that I won the first medal of my entire life after a childhood of shimmering participatory ribbons. It hangs just above my second monitor, just like so many more medals to follow.

After the ADT Half, I’ve spent the past few weeks coming back to full training strength and aside from some knee issues, similar to ones I had going to Colorado, I came out doing just fine!

I’d still love to lose more weight and that way forward still isn’t clear, but the path to 170 doesn’t seem nearly as urgent now that I’ve reached this stage.

This month, I plan on hitting the eighteen-mile mark in my training runs. By the time I do another progress report, I’ll be tapering. After that? I’ll try twenties.

It’s all getting very exciting!

Run #M158 - 16 miles - 9/18/14

Duration: 3:17:34

Distance: 16.38 miles

Rate: 12:04 per mile

I am quickly discovering, after running for eleven months now, that perhaps the best therapy in getting over running injury blues is… running. Yeah, weird. On M156, both of my legs were weak and my knees buckled under stress, leading to one of the hardest eight miles for my legs ever. By M157 two days later, only my right knee was buckling in weakness. This morning? My right leg buckled just slightly off the starting line, then was just fine for the remaining sixteen miles. (I don’t know why this 14.6 lap run wound up nearly a fifth of a mile shorter than the last sixteen-miler, but I chalk that up to GPS jitters (to the point, I’m glad the GPS didn’t conk out again!)).

This is the longest run since the last sixteen-miler just over a month ago (M142), after which I tapered for the ADT Half-Marathon (M149), but I was surprisingly un-antsy about challenging my greatest distance. Fourteen laps plus an exit tangent is pretty daunting, especially coming off some knee issues, but man, I felt great! Yeah, I was euphoric for those first few miles and I didn’t have the usual issues with mentally slogging in the beginning through the first couple turns like I usually do with long runs. I felt great in the end, too.

My goal was to beat 3:15:00 this time around, down from 3:21:54 the last time, but to do it without kicking it into high gear in the last mile to avoid injury. On that last sixteen miler, I ate a 90 calorie Quaker Chewy granola bar fifteen minutes before departing and three fruity PowerGels for the long haul, to be downed every forty-five minutes after event start. That Quaker bar didn’t quite do it enough for me though and I felt for the distance, I should’ve brought an extra gel. So, today I used five gels: one about ten minutes before leaving (a double chocolate, which tastes pretty good at room temperature!) and four in-pocket to be popped at a faster rate. I’d intended every thirty-five minutes to start, but after the first in-run gel, I decided to push them back to every forty minutes. It worked out great. The reality is the sweet spot is somewhere between, so popping a gel every, I don’t know, thirty-seven and a half minutes, would be ideal, but with Runner’s Brain, the math was already getting tricky enough. Aside from a weird, overly sweet belch later on, I had zero issues with these gels. Also, I fucking love candy, so it wasn’t a big deal. It’s kinda great to know what my body is able to do as far as digestion.

So the run was great! I started off a bit slower than anticipated despite the euphoria and for all that slower work, I sure was huffing and puffing a lot more than I liked. I did a whole bunch of sketchy, mental napkin math to determine how fast I’d need to be to beat M142’s time and I was a bit slow. The challenge, however, was knowing that I’d be slowing down in the second half as I ran out of energy and since I wasn’t kicking it in the last mile, knowing there’d be no last-minute save to shave off 5-10 seconds per mile in the exit tangent, for fear of ruining my legs again.

But something strange happened as I got to pace and kept my breathing under control (getting the feel, I guess you could call it): I was getting faster. I’d look at my Gear Live sporadically and it trickled down from 14:01 per mile early on to 12:41 to 12:20 (and back up to 12:21 as I’d watch it!) down to the final 12:04. I envisioned breaking that twelve-minute barrier, and I would have, but again, I didn’t want to kick it in the last mile. Twelve minutes is my target marathon pace, which equates to a 2:37:00 half-marathon (which I bested in Colorado) and a 5:15:00 full marathon (I’m erring on the side of caution by targeting 5:30:00 for my first marathon in January, though I should be able to hit that very easily).

Anyway, great run. Fantastic run. The thought of de-acclimating from distance after spending so long in Taper Valley had crossed my mind, but it appears that it wasn’t going to happen. Legs are a little sore, natch, but I feel good and I’m looking forward to repeating 5-8-5-16 this coming week.

See you on Saturday!

Run #M157 - 5 miles - 9/16/14

Duration: ~1:07:30

Distance: 5.47 miles

Rate: ~11:50 per mile

Aside from RunKeeper eating my workout again (I just rebooted my phone for the first time in three weeks, hoping it clears out any GPS-related issues), this was a pretty good run. I felt pretty strong going into it, but as soon as I started, my right leg felt like buckling. That’s better than M156 where both legs felt like buckling, right!?

Run almost went south just into the second leg, though: my stomach and head suddenly felt terrible, like I was instantly a little dizzy. I don’t know if it was some bit of food seeking revenge, or maybe not enough water? I don’t know. It was cool out and cloud cover meant I didn’t have my sunglasses. I seriously considered aborting not even two miles in, but I pushed through it. It was only a five mile run, c’mon. By the end of that second mile though, I was feeling better, so I pushed on. Lots of people were rolling into school and with two turns left in the third mile, the GPS died and my pace went through the roof. Blech.

My leg wound up feeling a lot more pliable in the end, but I’m hoping this upcoming weekend and some nice time off my feet will give my knee some recovery time. Fun! I think I’m still shooting for the full 16 on Thursday, so, buck up, see you then!

Run #M156 - 8 miles - 9/14/14

Duration: 1:47:59

Distance: 8.57 miles

Rate: 12:36 per mile

My legs hate the hell out of me. It’s taken me a while to summon the courage/strength/determination to do a full mid-week run and today was that day. I wasn’t going to cut out short, my legs felt a little wobbly at work/on the walk home, but I was all right. I could handle this, I had done worse!

Warmup went okay, but as soon as I started my run, I felt my legs deflate below me like a half-filled air mattress. Oh man, this was going to be a slog. It’s gotten cooler over the past few months, but at an hour in, the temperature was starting to kick up a bit. The game plan was the same as yesterday: move as your body feels and don’t kick it in the end.

At one point, I’d convinced myself that it was because it was the first longer-run-after-a-shorter-one-on-two-consecutive-days deal, but I was feeling bad even at the end of the first mile. I started to finally feel strength in my knees, but this was about four miles in.

I wanted to quit after every single mile, but I knew I had to keep going. It was cooler than usual, I wasn’t dead and I still had plenty of water. Well, almost. I filled my bottle nearly to the top and went through all of it. To any passer-bys, I probably looked desperately slow, but it didn’t matter, I was doing eight miles.

And I did. Gosh, it got real hard in there, especially that last exit mile, but I did it. I’m knowing where my fail states are, but despite the weakness, I knew I wasn’t able to fail yet.

I also got to see a guy get pulled over by a waiting speed trap cop at the end of a major road here. It was fun to see the cop follow him for nearly a mile, switch lanes with the dude, then flip on the lights as they were out on the distance.

Thankfully, tomorrow’s off and I’m back down to five miles on Tuesday. Depending on how that run goes, I may clip the sixteen-miler down to twelve. We shall see!

Run #M155 - 5 miles - 9/13/14

Duration: ~1:07:30

Distance: ~5.47 miles

Rate: ~11:30 per mile

Ugh! This is the third run in the past week that RunKeeper has eaten up and spit out. Frustrating. It stopped tracking at 1.77 miles and I had no idea until about five minutes later when the thing gave me an audio cue telling me my pace had gone up to seventeen minutes per mile.

Anyway, bad news is over: this was a great run! Didn’t push myself hard and I felt great. Knees are still a little achy but they’re getting better and all went well!

THE OTHER BIG HUGE FREAKING NEWS TODAY is that I just slapped down $110 to pay for my first full marathon. That’s right, I am now registered for the Arizona Rock N Roll Marathon on January 18th, 2015. While it will hardly be my last marathon run (unless, y’know, my legs explode, then I’ll have to learn on prosthetics), it does mark what will be the end of this blog. Aside from an update recap around the Phoenix Marathon a month afterward, I won’t be adding any more runs in here, there won’t be any more goofy selfies, no complaining about RunKeeper. I’ll be sorting all my notes and writing the book of my experience. It’s weird to see the end of this particular journey on the horizon, but it feels good, too. It means that I can move on from being on the path to nirvana and simply revel in being there.

Run #M154 Recap - 10 miles - 9/11/14

Duration: 2:12:22

Distance: 10.59 miles

Rate: 12:30 per mile

My goal today was to run ten miles. Guess what I did? I ran ten miles. I felt bad. My legs felt hurt, my stomach felt blech from bad eating this weekend, I was unreasonably sore. Completing the third lap, I calculated different ways to cut down this run. But I kept going, that is, until I made a pit stop near the end of lap seven. At that point, I knew I’d feel incredibly stupid for giving up just two laps and change short of my goal. Getting back into it after that point took a little bit (as it always does when coming from a stop) but after that, a lot of my soreness went away.

I took it nice and slow and when I finished up, I did some stretches to relieve Jimbo and my knees. I’m doing good, but man am I hungry!

Five miles on Saturday, see you then!