Run #M148 Recap - 3 miles - 8/28/14

Duration: 37:15

Distance: 3.44 miles

Rate: 11:08 per mile

I wasn’t quite ready to run this morning. I woke up dehydrated and spent a few minutes with a liter bottle of Dasani while I dressed for the run. On the road (well, sidewalk) I still felt urpy, but I had to go. I had to do it. I knew I would! I haven’t run just three miles in a number of weeks now and it felt a little weird. I started out pretty conservative, but when I picked up, I picked up, hitting some eight minute peaks in the last stretch before home. In the second to last turn, a random neighbor actually called me out. "I just wanna tell you man, you look way better. I thanked him and thirty seconds later, I was back at the house, dripping sweat. Now I’m running down my checklist of things to do, things to pack before we leave.

I am incredibly excited to be back home! The elevation bits, namely the course elevation and the altitude, are a little scary, but within 76 hours, I’ll be in that starting corral, ready to start RunKeeper as I join with hundreds of others on our thirteen-point-one mile trek for medallious glory.

I should note that I’m not operating on much sleep and there’s a long road to travel still, but that’s just been par for the course, hasn’t it? See you next week!

Run #M147 Recap - 6 miles - 8/26/14

image

Duration: 1:16:07

Distance: 6.55 miles

Rate: 11:37 per mile

With only this run and Thursday’s pre-departure three-miler between me and the ADT Half, I was a little nervous. Tell me if you’ve heard this before. This was originally going to be a four miler as I tapered off, but after I passed up the six-miler on Sunday because of issues with my right knee, I decided to beef this run up a bit. I’m a little disappointed that I won’t beat my May total and that the Half won’t rest on M150 like I would’ve loved, but whatever, small potatoes.

Still, I was anxious. I’d missed a run. When I woke up, I walked down to the Walgreens and only felt like I was at 80%, maybe 85% on the way back. I sat on my duff the rest of the night until 3:30AM when I visited the loo and began my run afterward. I’m this close to the Half, could my knee really keep me down? What if my leg explodes? Could I recover in time? My trip to Colorado revolves around this run. My time-off revolves around this run. My entire training to this point revolves around this run.

But let’s not talk about that run, let’s talk about this run. We’ll have plenty of time for that later. So I’d been on my duff for a few hours and this run was originally going to be five miles instead of four. But I kept coming back to six. Six miles is the symbolic distance I couldn’t breach during the ultimate collapse of my marathon training the first time around, so besting it felt paramount. In the warmup, I felt closer to 95%. My knee no longer felt like buckling, but I could feel the abnormality in my step. The inside of my brain was like a sixties-era NASA Control Room. An army of middle-aged brainiacs, sweating in bleach-white button-ups, sat behind desks with specific titles, giving the Go/No Go call out to command.

I hit the launchpad, it was time to go.

High on sugar and off two days without a run, I started fast. I was huffing and puffing and Jimbo flared up a little. Jimbo will always flare up a little. The knee, however, was doing fine. First mile was good, but tiring. Second mile went fine, but it was about two-thirds of the way through the third mile when I felt that Runner’s Spirit hit me. Less a flow of energy and more some wave of optimism, I was reminded why I did this, how I did this, how I got this far. I was all smiles as I bounded into the fourth and fifth miles. They just melted away. I wasn’t even keeping track anymore, I was just minding the path in my mind. No longer was I waiting out for the exit mile, I was just ready to go. It was cool out, but I was hot and burning up.

This was a great run.

See you on Thursday morning, mere hours before we head out the door for Colorado.

Runner’s Knee and Me!

What a fun thing today! Well, last night. This would’ve been the space where I described the six-mile M147, but instead, I’m going to lament my stupid knee. I’ve felt the pain creep into my right knee during the past few long runs, but it’s always disappeared before I’d start work a day or two later.

This week was a little special. I ran that ten-miler (M145), the next day, I go out shopping (walking around) and spend nine hours outside with my good friend standing unsupported. Yes, I was on my legs for nine hours straight before walking home and falling asleep. Then I work yesterday (another 12 miles) plus M146, a rather fast five-miler. So, I wake up today and my knee feels like Jell-o.

Working on it wasn’t painful, but it also wasn’t terribly fun. It’s like an easier version of QWOP where you can’t put too much pressure on the front of the knee or it buckles, like a big wobbly, uh, leg. This is the first time I’ve had Runner’s Knee since training in Vibrams and of course it would spring up eight days before my half-marathon. Of course it would, the little shit. I’m keeping off my leg today and I’m postponing or cancelling the six-miler in favor of two days off if need be. I can’t be risking an injury that can sideline me for weeks.

I hope it goes away fast because this is seriously annoying. You get over one stupid thing and something else breaks. Dammit.

Run #M146 - 5 miles - 8/23/14

Duration: 1:02:32

Distance: 5.47 miles

Rate: 11:26 per mile

In just the last .7 miles of this run, I shaved off fourteen seconds off my pace. I wanted to and I was glad I did! This was a nice, casual run. It was cool out (75-80F despite a cloudless sky) with a cool breeze, which is still warmer than I expect it to be in Colorado. First mile was a little huffy and puffy, second mile better, but by the time I was up in the third mile, things got easy. In the exit mile, I was blazin’!

Six miles tomorrow. See you then!

Run #M145 Recap - 10 miles - 8/21/14

Duration: 2:06:20

Distance: 10.73 miles

Rate: 11:46 per mile

And don’t forget the name: Everlasting Gobstopper.

Oh, where was I? Oh! So, I was planning a 12-mile run, but in looking at my schedule and all that, I decided to taper it just a little bit more with some leniency if I decided to add an extra lap to my run. Which I didn’t. I kept it at 9 laps and change, which created the distance you see above. No confusion like last week!

I left today with a half-full bottle of water and not my sweatband, which I regretted immediately, opting to mop away sweat instead of having to kill the workout some hundred and fifty steps in. First mile was slow, per usual thanks to the Observer Law I explained last week, but second and third laps - which constituted the first third of the run, didn’t go much faster. By the time I hit the half-way point four and a half laps in, my mind slowly started to drift away and so the last hour or so felt like a dream. It almost feels like I didn’t just run ten and a half miles at all! That said, once I was in the ninth lap and racing around the last corner to either begin the exit tangent or start a new lap, I was set on cutting early.

Jimbo’s been calm for a bit, but as soon as I started running, it flared up, as if I were pulling apart a wooden joint with still-wet glue and it was screaming to be put back together. The sensation was gone by the first turn. Weird. Between this run and last week’s sixteen-miler, my knees have also been giving me some push back below the ‘caps. Nothing crazy, but I’m glad that this week is taper week.

5-6-4-3. See you on Saturday!

AUGUST 2014 MARATHON PROGRESS REPORT

DISTANCE (continuous): 16.28 miles (from 14.31 miles)

It’s been a long three months, but I’m finally back up to half-marathon grade, topping out with my first record distance since. This was the first month I got to experiment with the usefulness of gels, something I’d read about in my research thirteen months ago when this whole journey began, even purchasing a whole bunch, uh, three months ago when I was planning to use them pretty much right away.

One big advantage of this marathon training buildup has been the sensation that I’m far stronger and less tender than I was the last time. It seemed a little too good to be true to be able to advance like that forever, but now that I’ve built my legs up a bit, getting through these runs is easier than before. Everything is easier except the heat, which continues unabated, held in loving combat by its ally, the humidity of our monsoon season. It sucks.

The ADT Half-marathon is in two weeks and I could not be more excited until I’m there in person. Holy cow! To be home running my first medal-dealing run ever? Oh man. This will be the first award I think I’ve ever earned that wasn’t in a video game or a participation ribbon. Or made of chocolate.

Look forward to that update soon!

Run #M144 - 5 miles - 8/19/14

Duration: 1:01:15

Distance: 5.43 miles

Rate: 11:17 per mile

Oh, a heckuva day to go for a run! I wasn’t aware we were due for rain today, but halfway through the shift, it came drumming on the roof. It was sprinkling on the walk home, but it wasn’t long before it came pouring for a solid half a mile. It felt like a warm shower from the Splashdown ride at your local amusement park. It was incredible. Unfortunately, it ended with some ten minutes to spare before I got home and another however-long before I’d be running. Still, the air was cool (75F-ish) and coming off not running on Sunday, I was ready to go. Since school is starting up again, I’ve gotta run past hordes of kids.

Oh, and what in the actual fuck is up with El Mirage, Arizona dog owners and leaving them unleashed outdoors? I had three dogs chase me down while I ran through the neighborhood. Seriously, what the hell?

This run went nice and smooth and I loved the hell out of it, except when I got home and noticed this…

Didn’t feel it, didn’t even see it until I pulled off my shirt. Runner’s nipple. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU.

Twelve miles on Thursday!

Run #M143 - 5 miles - 8/16/14

Duration: 1:03:32

Distance: 5.49 miles

Rate: 11:36 per mile

I’ve added two and two enough to realize now why it sucks to run in Arizona during this time of year. Normally, it’s dry and crisp and 90F doesn’t feel bad. I mean, see my earlier entries! But it’s monsoon season here in Phoenix, so the humidity isn’t clearing out with the storms. Today, it was high eighties with 50% humidity and no rain to speak of. It makes me antsy about tomorrow’s run, but today’s was okay!

My hips were still a little tight last night headed to work, something I haven’t felt since I was super obese. Starting this run, my quads were tight, which was something new - like a crazy new sound you hear when you’re taking your car to new limits - but it loosened up within the first mile.

I took to shade as often as possible and while I wasn’t aiming for speed, I am absolutely happy with the pace above. I remembered my sweatband, positioning it for much better results this time so sweat wasn’t dripping into my eyes, There was a cool breeze and I felt fine up until about halfway through the fourth mile when shade wasn’t readily available. I kicked it in the last few turns primarily to get out of the heat, but also, because I could.

Eight miles tomorrow. See you then! *wipes sweat off brow*

Run #M142 Recap - 16 miles - 8/14/14

image

Duration: 3:21:54

Distance: 16.55 miles

Rate: 12:12 per mile

Phew! It’s been three and a half months since I first ran 14.5 miles and I’ve been chasing a longer distance record since then. Hitting 14.3 miles two weeks ago while not being nearly as winded as I was the first time around on a harder course was pretty great, but I really wanted to up the ante to 16, 18, even 20 miles. Today, I got to do that.

The plot was easy enough: Take the last fourteen-miler and add two laps so I could exit right next to my house. Fourteen total laps at 1.1 miles each, plus an exit tangent which involved another .6 laps, so, 14.6 laps. Easy enough. But, I knew I’d need some secret weapons, so on top of a Chewy granola bar I downed about fifteen minutes before I headed out the door, I grabbed these:

image

I’d brought one gel two weeks ago, but I knew it was time to start getting the routine down.

It was ten degrees cooler than normal - 71F, warming to 78F during the three-plus hours I ran, but this was offset somewhat by the insane humidity, which was around 75%. (It usually hovers around 10-15% around here in western Phoenix, but recent rains have driven that up.) This meant that by lap two, I was showering myself with sweat and that was just ridiculous, yo. I have no idea why I didn’t bring my new sweatband, but I regretted it quick! I’m expecting it to be slightly cooler - 65-70F - and less humid (30-35%) when running in Colorado Springs in two and a half weeks.

The first lap is always the longest. I think it’s because it’s the survey run, to get my bearings, to note any obstructions, like forgotten trash cans blocking sidewalks or mis-parked cars. Just because the sidewalk has an eased curb doesn’t mean you can park your stupid vehicle on the pedestrian path, you idiots. Thankfully! - there were no offenders tonight and the route was clear. After the survey lap, the next few laps just became a matter of finding my pace, which took longer than usual - fourth lap. For some reason, I’d failed to click the charger to my Gear Live smartwatch, so I had to go without. Instead, I changed the audio cues on RunKeeper to bark out overall Average Pace and Current Pace, which mentally kept me on track. (Actually, it was a little scary hearing 13-14 minute “current paces” early on despite the declining “average pace”.)

I didn’t really have any issue keeping distracted. I just kinda thought of everything and nothing.

I popped gels every forty-five minutes, the first being the orange, which was actually pretty tasty - but maybe that was partially because it was the one out in the heat for the least amount of time. I found the track, something that sort of eluded me last time: you have to rip those tabs off with your teeth. No amount of finger-pinching and ripping is going to do it properly. That out of the way, three good squeezes got the contents out of each. No stomach issues to report and beforehand, I’d only had some Subway and some light snacks through the evening. I did good! The Berry came next and was just fine and the green apple was also good (it was actually the one I was looking forward to most) but maybe candy has twisted my expectations a bit: I was expecting a more playful, sour taste. Oh well! Travis Colby, of Finally Airborne fame, an obese-to-marathon blog I read when doing my early research, recommended only bringing fruit flavors for interstitial gels, because as I discovered on M140, vanilla and chocolate gels aren’t great when heat gets involved!

So anyway, back to the run, each lap became a matter of mathematics. Four laps wasn’t quite a third of the total run complete, but five laps was. The halfway point came at the end of the seventh lap and that was a pretty great sensation. With five laps remaining (beginning of lap 10) I made a comical error, though: I started counting down instead of up. SOMEHOW, I don’t know quite how, I came under the impression for a few laps there that I needed to run fourteen total laps, as in, thirteen and change. This meant that after some mental unpacking and some scary calculations based on pace, total time and distance, I had somehow mentally removed a lap from the run. Oops! This wasn’t dreadful overall, except that I was kinda wanting to pee and I’d need to run an extra 1.1 miles to do so.

Oh, and this is the first long, long run that I didn’t stop half-way through for a bathroom break. I’m actually pretty happy about that! I did run out of water in the thirteenth lap, though.

The sun was rolling up, but sat just beyond the horizon before I got back to the house. Staring down that last, long stretch in that final lap, I was so happy that I’d be making the distance and I’d be doing it for the first time. “Fuck, yes.” I said, to no one. It didn’t matter. I earned it. No walking, no pit stops, just sixteen-plus miles of running. Jimbo pinged me a few times and my left quads tightened up around lap 11, but released afterward. Sailing into unknown territory with the extra distance, I knew there’d be some fun little adventures in stress that I probably hadn’t experienced before. Thanks to the gels, however, I came back and, while slightly tired and numb from soreness, felt just fine.

I was going to run another 16-miler next week, but on some good advice, I’m beginning my taper, so it’ll be 5-8-5-12, then 5-6-5-4 next week, followed by three days of rest and then the ADT half-marathon. It’s so close! Two weeks from this very moment, my friend and I will be headed home.

See you on Saturday!