Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015, the year in review

  And what a strange year it has been.  In many ways it has been a tough one and yet in others a very wonderful and rewarding one. As the year began there were so many changes I was facing that I wasn't really sure what I wanted for the most part. I was in really a dark spot in my life continuing from late 2014, the worst in nearly 20 years. But I refused to give in to the darkness. Knock me down and I will fight my way back up and come back even stronger. So I learned to accept the changes forced on me and used the lessons learned with the help of a bright star to light my new path.

  Many things I thought I would be doing had no meaning anymore but they were replaced with new dreams as the year moved on but lets focus on where I was in January. Just two big goals and beyond that nothing much. Qualify for Boston and finish Western States. So that made it really easy to plan the first 6 months of the year, or at least I thought as you will see.

  January started off with just some awesome training. I was really suprised at how quickly I had gotten back into shape after the 2 month hamstring injury  in the 2nd half of last year. The workouts with Laura were amazing and  she was (and is) such a great motivator and cheerleader and refused to let me get down. So with things going well I decided to return to the Ocean Isle Beach Run for Food Half Marathon for a test. As usual it turned out to be a cold windy day at the beach but despite slowing the last few miles I ran a decent 1:45:17 and won my age group. a great confidence boost going into the final 2 months of training for the BQ attempt.

 February was a tough month with lots of training in cold and icy conditions but the training continued to go well. But I had some freaky things happen involving a fall out of my car and off a treadmill among others that started some issues with my upper hamstring not to mention some excrutiating pain from some cracked ribs. But somehow I continued to work. And I decided to race the sweetheart 5k in Rocky Mount. turned out to be a surprisingly hilly course but I ran a strong even paced race in 22:18 and a 2nd place AG award.

 Afterwards the hamstring issue was giving me more problems and things were getting iffy.  Then just as March arrived and just a few weeks to go I was in trouble. I had been seeing John Stiner at Stiner Massage every two weeks since the injury last Sept but I felt I had really screwed up. I called him and made an emergency appointment which I had to drive to in a snow storm but he was able to patch me up and with a couple of days rest I was able to run nearly pain free with a week to go before the race.

 I decided to forgo my plans to go for a pr and just try and get the BQ at the Wrightsville Beach Marathon and hope the body held up.  Tada ! Success. Not the sub 3:40 I was hoping for but the 3:48 was good enough. And it never would have happened if Laura hadn't been there helping me train and then being there for me in the last 5.5 miles of the race. You can get the whole story here at this link.

With the BQ taken care of it was now time to switch focus and prepare for Western States. An easy recovery week and then I begin returning to some trail running and adding in more hills.
 In the middle of April I had the Run the Rock 50k in raven rock State park. IT was a warm muggy day but I still ran and felt pretty good all day and enjoyed about 11 miles of it with Kara but I also had two bad stumbles which did even more damage to my upper hamstring/lower glute area.

 I needed some time off but I was so focused on wanting to be ready for WS so i pushed on. And then it just quit on me. By the end of the month after another trail run in Umstead where I had another fall I was in too much pain and the leg just wouldn't go. I was forced to take time off and hope for quick healing.

 Long story short, I had some serious damage to the area and the healing didn't come quick. I missed the entire month of May and Itried  a couple of test runs but barely made it 1/4 mile before the pain was telling me to walk back home.  Then June came and still the same. A test run two weeks before WS was another total fail so I didn't even try again.

 My dream of finishing WS was gone but I went out there anyway and gave it my best shot which wasn't very much of one limping and falling and re-injuring myself with a dnf at 16 miles.

 July was just another month of rest and healing but finally in the last week I went for a test run walk and made it a mile pain free and within two weeks I was able to run 4 miles and hope for a future in running was returning. It's a good thing I didn't have many plans for the Fall. I had signed up for the Columbus Marathon in October with hopes of improving on my BQ time but other than that the remainder of the year was wide open.

 August was just easy running as I begin to rebuild. I was pretty happy with how quickly my pace returned but the endurance needed some work.

 Finally in September I felt I was ready to resume the Fun Fridays with Laura. I think I had missed that more than anything during the layoff for the injury. I was a bit worried if I could run fast enough and not hurt myself but the first one went great just like always and we had a most wonderful time.

 I signed up for the Holden Beach Half Marathon but knew it would be a slow one as I had not quite returned to racing shape and no real long runs  yet. To add to it the day turned out to be nasty hot and humid and windy ! It turned into a death march and my slowest half in 38 years of running but at least I didn't hurt myself.

 In October I decided to skip traveling to Columbus because I knew I wasn't ready to  race a quality marathon. Instead I opted to return to Danville Va and run a half marathon. Wow, what a difference from the month before. Instead of 78 and humid at the start it was 29F ! I felt great and ran a 1:43 :15.

 In November I normally would be either going to Mountain Masochist or OBX. This year was suppose to a 10th Anniversary run but after the experience after last years race I just couldn't see myself returning and there was nothing to celebrate. So instead I chose to run the Battleship half marathon in Wilmington, a race I last ran back in 1999 !

 I had another good race on  a dreary cool day in 1:44 and was quite pleased with the consistent effort.

 I ended the month with my 12th consecutive Derby 50k. I had hoped it would be a pr attempt but I still didn't have the endurance to match the leg speed just yet and a freaky warm day that had me running shirtless guaranteed a slow day so I just made the most of it and had some fun.

 And that concludes the report for 2015. December had just been a training month to begin getting ready for next year but that is another post. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Summer in December or training update w/e 12-27-15

 The first official week of Boston  training didn't quite get off to the start I was hoping for. After running in long pants and the other winter gear last Saturday and Sunday mornings, Summer decided to make a return at the Winter Solstice.

  Monday was actually quite nice in the 50's and I got in an easy 6 along the Neuse at my normal pace.

 Tuesday and a return to the track. Hard to beleive it was in the low 70's and I was doing speedwork shirtless. Although I was hitting my splits ok for some 800's at 10k pace and 400's at 5k pace it was harder than it should have been.

 Wednesday I was busy and I needed a rest day anyhow with my upper hamstring a bit angry.

 Thursday am was just a miserable morning. 72F and 100% humidity. Bad enough in July but really tough when you are acclimated to colder weather. A decent pace again but it felt like work trying to breathe.

 Friday morning, Christmas morning.  Sadly no Fun Friday this week with just too much going on with the holiday but it was probably a good thing. I felt worn down and struggled for 6 miles at much slower than normal as it was in the low 70's and humid again. No way I could have even run 1 mile with Laura at even our normal warm up pace. At least the hamstring continued to improve.

are those snow clouds? 72F !!

 I was hoping to get in a long run on Saturday, at least 16 miles and maybe more. Another morning of 100% humidity and upper 60's though made for another slow one. I didn't feel bad but just got stuck in a slow groove about 20 seconds per mile slower than my normal. I decided to quit at 12 and save it for a better day.

 Sunday was another easy 6. I waited a little later and the sun came out making the 64F and 96% humidity feel worse but at least I had a bit of zip back in me. I'm sure getting an extra 1.5 hours of badly needed sleep helped with that.

 So, there you have it. A couple of good runs and some miserable running weather for a total of 42.5 miles for the week. The weather is looking like it will gradualy get back into more normal temperatures for the season and I hope with it I began to feel better and able to get in the miles and workouts I have scheduled. Until then, stay tuned. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

And now it's on. Training update w/e 12-20-15

 Well, sort of officially calling this the Boston training kick off week. so how do you start? With a day off ! Yes, Monday was another tough work day and no time even though I tried to get an early start. But rest was a good thing after the strong 16 on Sunday.

 Tuesday it was time to head to the track again. After a 2 mile warmup on the greenway I was ready to go or at least I thought I was. Felt way to hard on the first quick lap so I bailed on the planned 800's and 400's Then I started over again slower with the idea to do some mile repeats. That worked ok but I was still a little slower than planned and working harder for it.

 Wednesday was tight on time but I did get out for 5 easy and I felt surprisingly good as I finished up just at sunset.

 Thursday  was an easy 6 at home. I felt ok but the legs were heavy and no zip although the last mile was decent. Think part of the dead legs was from doing squats at the gym yesterday.

 Then it was fun friday once again ! Yay my most favorite day ! Laura and I were back to our normal time this week and we did the same route as last week

. A little slower this time but we did some pick ups in mile 3 and 4 and then did a slower recovery mile 5 before a strong push to the end.  Once again I somehow rocked another great run with her leading the way. Hard to call a 48:42 10k slow !

 Saturday was another easy 6 at home and freezing temperatures were back after a week of mild weather. I wore long pants and a jacket ! I felt sluggish too and was feeling the hard effort from Fridays hard tempo.

 On sunday, it was a bit warmer at 36F and I had hoped to get in some marathon pace work in a moderate long run. I was feeling pretty good and nailed the workout as planned. 5 easy , then 3 x 2 miles in 16:05, 15:58 and 15:59.

 So there is another good week in the books. 41.5 miles as I slowly build the mileage. I hope to get it back up into the 50's by january if things continue to go well.

Monday, December 14, 2015

enough with the recovery, time to get on with it. training update w/e 12-13-15

 After a great recovery week I was ready to ease back into training and ease it was to start. Due to time constraints and working both jobs I couldn't get in a run on Monday.

 Tuesday I headed to the track for a short but sweet workout. 2 mile warmup, 2 x 800 in 3:34, 4 x 400 in 1:43-1:44 and a mile cooldown. Hmm, a bit harder than expected but it was the first time back on the track in awhile.

 Wednesday was another tough day of work but I was able to squeeze in an easy 5. Surprised to set a segment pr going up house creek hill without trying to.

 Thursday was a planned easy day and I got it with another rest day caused by my car breaking down.

 Almost missed out on Fun Friday. Laura had a busy day ahead but messaged me that if I ould meet earlier we could run. Yay! Whatever it takes ! So a 5:45 start in the dark. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel and we didn't even talk about or plan a workout as we just decided to run and see what happened. Went the opposite direction for a change. Good warmup mile and as always happens I was soon cruising along at tempo pace with a 7:42 over the two hills.

  She wanted to detour through a neighboorhood she likes to do speedwork in and somehow I nailed a 7:33 and 7:39 through there. With about 1.5 to go we ran into Bill and he ran the rest of the way with us. A 7:53 back over the hills. ( I was getting a bit tired) And then in the last mile she had me doing surges and crushed the last mile in 7:20 ! Total of 6.2 at 7:43 average and my best overall with her !

 Saturday was an unseasonably warm and very humid morning. I went for an easy 6 at Anderson Point on the Neuse. I think I had more soreness from FF than I did from Derby !  Felt sluggish and a very slow opening mile down to the river but then I felt good and was crusing at my new normal easy pace and somehow ran an 8:20 back up to the point. Sweated buckets !

 Sunday I was hoping to get in a good long run targeting 16 on another warm humid morning. Wasn't really feeling it and was slow and easy until around mile 5 I finally felt smooth. After mile 8 I decided to see if I could do a bit of an easy progression and was happy the body responded well. After 14 I backed off again and was happy to get in the miles and average 8:54 pace.

 So there it is, a good transition week with 39.2 miles and now  time to get into the Boston training. Stay tuned for more training action !

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Turning 60 and a great training, err, recovery week.

So now I am 60 and moving into a new age group ! I do expect that I will continue to have a lot of tough competition but I am planning to  make the other guys work for it !
 I have been looking forward to this one for awhile now. 60 sounds a lot better than 59 but I'm done now. Lets not have any more !!

 But seriously, I sometimes wonder where the time has gone. I have to say that I am quite proud of where I am  right now. I never would have imagined that at this age I would be in nearly the best shape of my life, Sure, I can't touch the  20 and 30 year old pr's but I can at least be close to some from my 40's and early 50's. and as far as strength and fitness I don't know that I have ever been any been stronger or looked better in my life.  It didn't happen by accident though. If you know me you know that over the past 3 years I have been  doing core, body weight or free weight workouts nearly 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day in addition to all the running and the work has paid off.

 My weight is hovering around 138 now, only 3 pounds more than me at 25 and that is muscle. A little over three years ago I was 148 and no muscle and a  some love handles showing  around the waist despite running over 2,000 miles a week.

 In addition to the fitness I am even happier to be healthy. I know that anything could happen but right now I am  feeling great. I went to the Dr for an upper respiratory  infection after returning from California in the summer and other than that I had not been to a Dr for sickness since an ear infectioin in 1985 !!

 Enough of that for now, how about the "recovery" week

 Well, Ultraman left me some of his super powers while he is off fighting Superman.

 On Monday I took a rest day !

 Tuesday I had the time an desire and amazingly no soreness from the 50k so I went for an easy 4 at home. and wow, the pace was right where it would have been before racing.

 Wed was a  6 miler again at my now normal 8:49 average pace and no soreness.

 Thursday was an easy 5 at Crabtree in  yes,  8:49 average ! 

 I was looking forward to Fun Friday resuming but a little worried if I could hold a decent pace to keep up with Laura. I have never had a bad workout with her before. And, the streak of awesomness continued ! With no planned workout we just ran how I felt and ended up doing a great tempo run for 5 miles after an opening 8:20 mile. We were only off the course pr by 17 seconds but I ran relaxed the while time, no side stitch or nausea coming over the last mile or two. How cool is that ! what 50k?

 Saturday was another easy 6 at 8:47 average on the Crabtree Creek section from AndersonPoint. Notice the consistency?

 Sunday was a gorgeous morning and I went over toward Clayton and ran an easy half marathon for my birthday run in 1:56:23, an 8:53 pace.

So there you have it. A great week, a milestone birthday and big things to come. Stay tuned for a year end update coming soon and looking ahead to the coming year. !

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Derby # 12 and a little training thru 11-29-15

 With the race coming up I planned an easy week, almost a taper !

 Started off Monday with an easy 4 miles at home.

 Tuesday I hit Umstead for some hills. Felt really good and the hills seemed easy ! But maybe not the best thing to do before the race.

 Wednesday was a flat easy 5 along the crabtree greenway.

 Thanksgiving Day was another easy 5 along the Neuse on a lovely afternoon.

And Friday was a rest day !

  As for the race, I will spare you the long report . As expected the lack of long runs came into play and the great weather forecast the week before turned out not so good. with sun and low 70's

 I started off at my normal easy pace and after about a mile, Mark Johnson caught up to me and we ran that whole first lap together. I commented to him around mile 4 that I was ok but just not feeling it. This pace should have felt so much easier.

Early miles with Mark Johnson. Photo by Ginger Watson

 Finished that 1st 10,5 mile loop right on pace but I was already sweating so I took off my shirt. Can hardly beleive I would ever run Derby Shirtless ! Usually it's a battle to stay warm !

 By mile 14 and another trip over the Pappy Rabb hills I knew it was over and so after the easy next few miles at 17 I shut it down and began a run walk just to get it done with as little suffering as possible.

 A part of me just wanted to quit and save it for another day at the end of lap 2 at mile 21 but no way I was going to do that unless I was injured so off I went for lap 3, I actually took a little time to talk at the aid stations and get my bottle refilled on this last one. and then after leaving the last one with about 3.3 miles to go I suddenly began to feel a lot better and  picked up the pace quite a bit.

 So Derby #12 is in the books. As always a great little race. Thanks to Mark Long for putting on this gem and all the great volunteers, most of whom are friends. I think the spaghetti lunch afterwards may have been the best ever  and as always the best part is the post run socializing.

 I am very thankful that I made it through the entire race pain free ! So glad everything held up. Big thanks to Stiner Massage for keeping me rolling !

 I am 99.9% sure I want be back next year for #13 as I am taking  time off from ultras for the forseeable future but hopefully I can be one of the volunteers next time !

 I rested on Sunday to complete the week by the way but took a leisurely walk for 3 miles along the beautiful Neuse Greenway to loosen up a bit and enjoy the day.