A non-running Summer nightmare

I can talk all day about the why’s….. I could make up a thousand excuses… I can ponder reasons and doubts and probably come up with a very long list.  Plain and simple, the Summer of 2016 has been a tough running season for me.

 

Normally, every year my racing season ends with a short race, typically early in June.  The Summer is then spent rebuilding sore muscles, recovering from marathons and halves, taking some time off, and then building back for a Fall racing season packed with great races.

This, in part, is very true for the last few months with one exception.  I’ve been on the verge of injury, the brink, since starting back.  I’ve never felt quite right.  I’ve had PF in the past, a bout with it that lasted about 9 months.  A painful injury, but one I ran through causing it to linger way longer than necessary.  I learned my lesson.  Back then, I took a month off from running.  No running at all.  It seemed to do the trick, and when I returned to running slowly, the problem never came back.  The summer of 2016 has been a reminder to me of that pain, that desire to fun free and feel good.  I just haven’t been feeling right all summer.

What running I have done has been short, agonizing at times, and most certainly slow.  I feel like I’ve aged ten years the past four months.  I see all these people posting mileage for the summer, long runs, race prep, etc… It has been painful just to see that.  I want that!  My feet tell me no.  Not yet.

So?  What to do?  I’ve barely even been reading blogs this summer, much less write my own.  I haven’t had really any running news to share, so I just haven’t.  I’ve missed it for sure, but needed to focus on other aspects of my life that needed attention.  But here we are, heading into Fall, so what is my plan?

I didn’t enter the Chicago Marathon lottery this past Spring, so for the first time in three years I will not be heading to the Windy City in October.  I did enter the Berlin Marathon lottery, and I guess fortunately considering my injury status, didn’t get picked because that race is days away.  Marine Corps though, that’s another story.  I did enter the lottery, DID get chosen, so I have one marathon this Fall at the end of October.  I’ve debated over and over again if I should defer, but haven’t decided yet.  Why?  I think I’ve decided to give at least one race a shot and see what kind of condition it leaves me in.  Once that’s over, I’ll know.  I’ll know for sure.

So, without further ado, I AM RACING this weekend.  My body has been in preservation mode, and now needs to quickly flip to racing mode.  A half marathon this weekend should let me know once and for all, if indeed I am either in or out this Fall.  Why you ask, am I racing?  I just need to know.  I need to have a clear direction for this running passion I have for the next several months.

With a pacing gig lined up for mid October, and Marine Corps a few weeks later, and one last Half locally a couple weeks after that, I just need to know if I am back on track or not.  If the race goes ok this weekend, and recovery isn’t bad, I’ll know.  If the race is an epic failure, I’ll know.

So, wish me luck!  I promise to post a recap with all the details, good or bad, next week.    I’m either going to stare injury in the face and beat it, or I’ll be down for the count until 2017.  Should be an epic race either way.  ;). Here goes nothing!

Advertisements

Why do YOU run marathons?

I’ve read article after article about the reasons why someone should run a marathon.  Every article seems to list a top 5, a top 10, a top 3 reasons why you should.  But, for me the reasons why are just too numerous to count.

It’s all very personal.  Don’t you agree?  I want to push myself further than I ever thought possible, I want to run it to raise money for charity, I want to qualify for the Olympics….the list goes on and on and on.  Some may say they want to run a marathon simply to say they did.  Some run for time, some run for fun.  Some even walk.  I want to hear from you!

I’m going to blog about my readers’ top reasons to run a marathon.  More of a personal approach.  Real life, real runner reasons.  I’m going to compile YOUR reasons to run and blog about the TOP 5!

I’ll start things off with my top reasons…. why I run marathons.

  1.  Inner sense of accomplishment
  2. Clarity of mind
  3. Pushing my physical limits
  4. The break it gives me from “real life”
  5. Creating my own legacy

image

Have you ever given it a lot of thought?  Maybe you just run to run, because you love it.  But why?  Why do you love it?  Please share your thoughts…

On the eve of my 27th marathon these thoughts cross my mind.  I often ask myself why I do this, and sometimes the reasons do change from race to race, year to year.  One thing remains true for me, the marathon is epic!  Running a marathon is no small feat and should be celebrated by all who complete one.

Winter Blues

The time has come.  Seems as though it gets earlier and earlier every year.  I have had it with Winter.  Dread it getting here, dread it even more in the midst of it, and eventually fed up completely with the cold and bitterness.  Jesus, and I don’t even live in the north.  My blood has completely thinned out in the years that I have lived in the south.  Winters here have been a walk in the park compared to those when I lived in NY.  That day is here though, I am ready for Spring!

So many of my usual things get hampered by the lack of daylight, the lack of sunshine, the lack of warmth.  My energy levels suck this time of year.  Why do I find this time of year is best spent on the couch or in bed?  The weather just lends to lack of motivation for me.  I have to force myself to bundle up and get outside for a run.  Does this happen to you?

My training miles really suffer at this time of year.  Looking back on my running calendar I realize just how unmotivated I am at this time of year.  60 something miles in January?  How pathetic is that?  What’s even more pathetic is that of those 60 miles, 26.2 of them were during a marathon.  I didn’t even take my running shoes on vacation.  Didn’t run once.

I can only hope Spring gets here soon.  I have a bunch of racing to do in the coming months, and that means training if I want to perform well.  I have Asheville Half and Full in four weeks!  Then All American Full three weeks later.  Then Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Full the week after that.  I need training miles to feel ready.  What do you do to motivate yourself to get those training miles in for the races ahead?  Dreaming of Spring, warmer temps and sunshine doesn’t seem to be cutting it for me these days.  I need something more! Bring on 101 degrees!

image

Abbott World Marathon Majors

Slowly but surely….

It may take a while, but with conviction and commitment, I will run each of the worlds major marathons.  What an accomplishment that would be!  To get to do what I love and mix in traveling to places I’ve never been would be a huge treat!

image

As it now stands, at the beginning of 2016, I’ve run two of the six.  What started as a six year plan (when I first learned that I had made it into Chicaco in 2014) I thought about trying to run at least one of the six every year for six straight years.  Of course that plan could change at any time depending on when and if I qualify for Boston.  My best being only 7 minutes shy of my qualifying time, I know I can get to Boston!  When and where that lucky qualifying race will be is still in question.

So, in 2014, I made an epic start to the Six, in Chicago.  I followed that up with another run in Chicago in 2015, along with the second of The Six, in New York City.  My plan for 2016 was Berlin, but that fell through with a disappointing email that stated I didn’t get in through the lottery.  So, what to do now?  Is 2016 lost?  I think not!  My focus for the first part of 2016 will be really finding a routine again.  The last two months of every year are really tough on me work-wise. The holidays are just so tough, and busy it leaves me so little time to really run.  I usually just end up using November and December as full on recovery mode from busy racing years.  It typically works well to my advantage, as in years past when my racing commences the following year, I feel fresh and renewed.  My last few weeks of running have felt really good.

My 2016 plan begins with finding rhythm.  I am pacing three marathons and one half marathon over the next few months, and it all begins this weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.  My reasons for pacing are many.  First and foremost, I find pacing super gratifying because I can give back to my fellow runners.  Using the skills that I have learned through running over the past five years, and completing over 30 Halves and 22 Marathons, I feel very comfortable leading a group of runners to a certain finish time.  It’s a social event, too.  As a manager/director in real life, I am used to leading people.  Being the supporter, and helping people reach goals both personally and professionally.  This flows so naturally into my running, so my comfort level while pacing comes through.  Let’s talk, lets uplift and encourage, and get that PR.  Love it.

I will be pacing the Half and Full in Asheville in March, and then again pacing the Full at the All American Marathon at the beginning of April.  From there I have two more marathons planned before the Summer begins.  I plan on working on speed work, doing 800’s, and hill work during the Summer, and really pushing my own envelope when it comes to speed.  I need to if I want to really concentrate on getting a coveted Boston Qualifyer.  That race will be late summer if all things come together.  My tentative plans for Fall were a hopeful trip to Berlin, so I’ll need to focus on a new plan.  It will come with time.  I do know though, that I will keep focused on my plan of completing each of the Big 6.

Wouldnt it be amazing to be able to say one day that you completed all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors?  Boston, Berlin, London, Tokyo, Chicago, New York.  Wow!  That would be something, wouldn’t it?

image

Have you completed any of these races?  Would love to hear your stories!

Sick as a Dog!

It’s always this time of year.  Sometime between the beginning of November and Christmas.  Sickness befalls me.  The rest of the year I am typically as healthy as a horse, in fact I think my average for getting sick is about once a year.  Now happens to be that time.

image

It began with a tickle.  A bit of a strange scratchy feeling in the back of my throat on Saturday evening.  I could tell something was awry.  I hoped it was just dust and allergies causing it, because I had been digging around in the attic getting down Christmas decorations and tree ornaments.  I woke up on Sunday feeling just a little bit worse.

Monday rolled around, after barely being able to sleep on Sunday night, and I felt like a freight train had barreled through me.  I felt like I had the Flu!  Couldn’t be that though, because I get the Flu shot yearly, and had just been inoculated about three weeks prior.  It must just be a bad cold.  I struggled through Monday, but it was bearable because I had the day off from work,  Tuesday?  Now that was another story.  I about fell out by the time I got home from work.  Pure crazy sick!

Today hasn’t been much better.  Every year I get sick around this time and it’s curious to me.  How come it always coincides with a downtime in my training regime?  Every time this happens I’ve been “taking some time off”.  A running vacation of the non-running kind, if you will.  I think it’s sort of strange that as soon as I stop running, which only happens in late November and December, my body at rest, picks up an illness.  I swear to God, if I was training for a marathon right now, I wouldn’t have gotten sick.

Thoughts?

image

Had to put in a sick chihuahua photo, since I own two of them.

Satan’s Ass Crack

Ok, I’m not sure where you live, but does it ever warm up to over 100 degrees there?  It does here.  Today is perfect evidence of it.  Thank God the humidity is only about 30%, otherwise it would be pretty much unbearable outside.  Not very conducive for a run later, I’m afraid.

Oh no, and don’t check the 10 days forecast if you’re not a fan of starting to melt the moment you walk out the door.  It’s a pretty brutal fact, and here it is….

6/16- 104

6/17- 99 (a nice chill down)

6/18- 102

6/19- 100

Then we have 98, 99, 99, 95, and 98.

Summer is here, and Satan is sitting his ass crack down smack dab in the middle of North Carolina.

image

I actually went for a 3 mile run late yesterday when the sun went down below the tree line.  It wasn’t fun but I got it done.  It was like 92 at the time.  How will I ever endure the coming week?  I actually prefer running in the heat versus the intense cold, but these temps are making me really think hard about if that’s truly the way I feel.  I’m pretty sure if I cracked an egg outside on the ground it would start to cook today.

Historically, it doesn’t get this hot that often here.  I remember about seven years ago we had a Summer where we hit over 100 degrees like seven days in a row.  It was brutal.  The weather extremes these days are incomprehensible.  I will say this though.  I need to suck it up because winter always returns with a vengeance, and I truly don’t like to be cold.  So, as with everything else in life, I have learned to endure the struggle.  The heat must not affect my training that badly, as my Fall marathons are always faster than my winter and Spring marathons.

How about you?  Are you a cold or hot weather runner?  It seems around here that my favorite months for running are March and October

Pacing to BQ

So the days of Spring are long gone, and so are the days of being lazy, cooped up and on the couch by 7:30pm.  Summer is here, and a new strategy for fitness and speed has hatched.

Summer is always an interesting season for me running wise.  It’s usually too hot for distance training, but the abundant daylight offers so many more chances for the runs I like to do.  Runs during the evening!  Typically I hate running in the dark, as it is very unmotivating to me.  This time of year I can afford to come home from work, relax for a few hours, and then head out for a run.  It makes me happy to be able to do that.  I hate feeling rushed, and feeling like I need to get in my runs when I am not mentally or physically prepared for them.

Almost four weeks have passed since my last marathon, and I have been busy preparing for what’s next.  I took a week off first of all, and really let my muscles recharge.  I intentionally signed up for a local 10k in the beginning of June so that I would have to start doing some shorter, faster runs to prepare for it.  If you’re anything like me, distance training can become monotonous.  I get into ruts, and feel like I can’t improve my speed. It’s always a given that I race faster than I train, but this idea I had is twofold, and hatched almost three weeks ago.

image

I was going to train for speed.  Focus on pace, and improving my focus.  My eighth run is today, and the seven runs at the beginning of this plan are leading me in the right direction.  I am trying to mix speed work, with endurance to try to achieve a BQ.  I have been shooting for 8 minute miles, and for me, it has been fun, but not easy.  You see, my normal training runs are on some hills, and I usually end up with an overall pace of somewhere in the 8:40 range.  For this plan I tried to choose the flattest route (it’s not flat) that I could to work on speed.  The first mile is always my slowest, no matter how hard I try.  But my results are becoming more what I need to see to possibly make my dream of a BQ come to fruition.

On 5/13 I paced 7:59 for a 5k.  On 5/15 I paced 7:59 at 3.25 miles.  I slipped a bit on 5/17 with am 8:12 for 3.25 miles, but I had worked all day on my feet and was tired.  On 5/18 I yearned for hills, so mixed those in and ended up at an 8:43 pace for 3.5 miles.  Then, super speedy day on 5/20 with 3.5 miles at 7:51 pace.  Two more runs of 4 and 3.5 miles right near 8:00, and I am pleased with how I am doing.  I will push myself hard on 6/6 during the 10k.  I want to see what’s possible, but with like 20+ turns on a challenging course, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Until then, I will keep pushing the pace envelope.  After the race, my focus will be pushing the pace during training runs down to 7:45. I need a pace of 7:49 over the full course of a marathon to BQ, so training for it will be crucial .  The best I’ve done in a marathon thus far is 8:06 pace.  I’ve got work to do!

I will have six weeks after the 10k to be ready for my marathon.  Like I said, I have my work cut out for me, but without a challenge I become complacent, and I do not want that!  I’ve got to see what I am capable of.  Wish me luck!

What are your favorite training go-to’s for increasing speed?  Pleas share!  Happy training yawl!