Sunday, June 26, 2011

Time to catch up

So here's the deal.  In late March I lost strength in my right arm.  The tricep and pectoral muscle on my right side were almost paralyzed.  I couldn't do a single pushup.   Went to the Dr, had an MRI, went to a specialist.   I had two herniated discs that were pressing on my nerves that the specialist described as 'impressive'.    Because of the pinching of the nerve and to prevent permanent damage, I was schedule for surgery.  

Soon after my diagnosis, I had a real bad episode with my lower back.   I believe the back was related to the neck herniation.     Because of the back and drs orders, all working out and running stopped.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion on two discs.     Major surgery that would keep me in a neck brace for 6 weeks,  not able to pick up more than 10-15 lbs for 3 months.    I was scheduled for surgery May 3rd.

I was pretty devistated that I wouldn't be able to run, but more worried about the impact  on my family.  A 2 and 4 year old and not being able to pick them up or really help out with them for a couple of months.

Fast forward to roughly 10 days before surgery.  I made an extra appointment to meet with the surgeon because I noticed I was getting my strength back.   Over the weeks from my first meeting the surgeon,  I noticed I could do one pushup.  And then two.  I thought I might just be compensating with strength with my other arm, but I was actually gaining strength back so I decided I should let the surgeon know.    As soon as I told him the situation, and he did some strength tests, he immediately took the surgery option off the table.


He gave me the green light to start running again, as he assured me the injury wasn't running related (although we don't know what really caused it).  On April 20, I ran a very happy mile.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Freeze Your Buns #5 - PR

--Again, months late --
The Freeze your Buns #5 was the final in the winter series, and the first race I'd be running with a 'natural' form, and the new kinvaras. I didn't know what to expect, I was a little worried how my calves would hold up. They have been pretty sore the past couple weeks as I worked on the new form. The weather was pretty nice, at least nice enough for shorts, especially compared to the single digit temps of some of the previous Freeze Your Buns races.

With only about 100 racers, its a pretty small group. The course is three loops around the highschool with a 1/2 mile stretch to and from the school. There aren't many hills, other than a couple minor elevation changes by the school, and one bigger hill right in front of the starting line.
Normally I'm not a headphone wearer during races, but this race I really wanted to use every advantage I could get, so I put on my "Speed" playlist. The playlist was about 36 minutes longs, so if I ran out of playlist, I was in bad shape. I even timed my playlist so I would finish on one of my favorite running songs to provide an extra kick at the end.

The race started, and soon I realized something was different. I wasn't in the back of the back. Although I was no where near the front, I was firmly in the back-mid-pack. Often times in smaller races I'm one of the last ones through across the starting line, or close to it.
My new form was doing its thing. It allowed me to keep a pace I never really experienced, while not exerting a ton more energy. The race was uneventful as most are, and I managed to maintain a good pace. I reached the final 1/2 mile stretch, I realized that the song I wanted to finish up on hadn't started yet. I was actually two away which meant I was doing really well on time.. I clicked next button twice on the iphone, and powered through to the end. I was spent by the time I crossed the finish line, but I managed a 5k PR and beat my next best time by 3:29, and met my goal I set for a sub 30:00 5k.
Awesome day of running!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Natural / Forefoot Running

I heard quite a bit about Natural / Forefoot/ Minamalist running from both podcasts and reading the book "Born to Run".  I was sure it was great for some people but never felt the need to explore it further.  A book come out by one of the owners of Newton Running shoes called Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running and decided to read it, just for informational purposes.  I had no intention of changing my running style.

After reading, I found myself trying the forefoot running just a bit.  The main thing I really liked about the Natural Form is the lack of 'braking'.  'Braking' is the force that slows you down as your heal hits the ground as you are running.  By not landing on your heal, running becomes a continuous motion.  Makes running more smooth and efficent.  

After a couple of weeks of practicing forefoot running, I found myself unable to heal strike.   It wasn't a painless transition, there were times when my calves felt like they were broken.    Once I got over the calf issue,  natural running has become second nature.

I upgraded my shoes to Kinvaras.  They have a lot lower heel than your traditional running shoe.  If you are forefoot / natural running, you don't need that large unnatural heal on regular running shoes.  And they are super light, and super bright!

Speed has been the biggest different I noticed.   While heal striking, I found it very difficult to ever go faster than 11:00 pace.    My endurance isn't magically any better, and running is still very hard, but my pace is usually significantly better.


Hampton Half Race Report

*** Sorry for lack of updates.  Gonna do a few posts to catch up ***
It was beautiful day in Hampton.  Beautiful, cold and windy!    The day started out fun by meeting with a group of Daily Milers in the morning.  A very friendly group of people.  It was surreal seeing people in real life I only know from little avatar pics from the Daily Mile website.
The weather was cold enough that I had to wear my big goofy winter hat (it has a face cover you can pull over your face if necessary) and sweat pants.  I HATE HATE HATE running in sweat pants.   I think this race was a hint that I might want to invest in some running pants, especially if I need to training in the winter.  
The first 6 miles were uneventful, and I maintained a sub 12:00 pace which I was content with.  As with all my running, I struggled, but I  felt ok.  Soon after that, I started falling apart soon after the first and pretty much only significant hill.   Below are my splits:

As I think back to the race, I only recall the last 3 miles being really tough to plow through, but by looking at the splits, it seems mile 8 was where the trouble began.   Nothing in particular hurt, I was just tired, or tired of running.  Not sure which. 

The last 4 miles were absolutely beautiful.  Running down Rt 1, even though it was still brutally cold, the scenary was stunning.   It seemed like you could see for ever, including  every detail from the Isle of Shoals.   At this point my body was done with running and I just wanted to be done, but the fastest way home was to run.

My finish time was 2:46:53.  Less than 2 minutes better than my Manchester half, and Manchester is a lot tougher of a course.   At first I was surprised and dissapointed at this result.  After some reflection, I realize this is exactly what I should have expected.  My training for this race was almost identical as my half in Nov.   Never did a run more than 7 - 8 miles.  And both times I only did one of those.     So in the future, I need to do more, longer runs if I'm going to do a Half.    Some pics of me struggling:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tomorrow, Tomorrow....

Tomorrow is the the Half at the Hamptons.  Once again, under trained.   Probably a little better than the last time, but still I could have used more miles under my belt.  I blame the weather, because I've really been enjoying the running lately.

I'm working on a more natural running position when I run.  This basically means no landing on your heel, but instead landing on your forefoot / midfoot when running.    It uses different muscles so it is something you need to transition to slowly.   I got a new pair of shoes that help facilitate that change (more on those later).  I haven't run in them though, don't want to screw up my feet/ankles/legs before the half.

I was almost successful with my weight loss.  I wanted to be down to 200 by the race, which I didn't hit, but I was 203 as of this morning.    I could go on a big run right now and sweat out those three pounds if I really wanted to :)

During runs, or drives to work, I like to listen to podcasts.  All my podcasts tend to be running / triathalon related.   Frequently they talk about   Essentially a facebook, but for people who exercise.     I love this site .  I get no support with any of my weightloss / running, so to find a place of like minded indivduals is fantastic.    This group of people understand what its like to struggle,  to be injured, tired, as well as the feeling of great run.   I can't put it into words, but it is nice to find a support system, even though  its a bunch of strangers.   However, about a dozen of us are doing the same half marathon this weekend and are going to do a 'meet up' before the race.     100% out of character for me to do something this social, but I'm starving for support.

Very excited to get on with this race.   Next big race is in 45 days (if I survive this one).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

3 Weeks to go.

I'm always learning new things with this 'running hobby'.   The lesson learned the past couple of weeks has been, training for a half marathon when we are having a near-record snow accumulation sucks.    I managed to get an 8 mile run in today, which was very slow, but it was great to get the miles in.    The 'plan' I spoke of a couple of weeks ago is out the window for the most part.  I'm still aiming for the mileage, but all the cross training and rest days are at the mercy of the weather.    Just doing what I can.

Also, I  think the Tri thing is out the window.  I'm a sucky runner who is working on being an OK runner,  but training for another activity I'll be sucky at as well, my running won't improve as much as I want.   Not to mention the cost of getting into triathlons (bike + wetsuit)   is not something we need to be adding to our expenses this year.       It looks like I can fill the year with more half marathons (assuming  my body holds up)  that will keep me busy.   Not to mention the seemingly endless supply of 5Ks.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter in the Hamptons

So my second half marathon will be the  Winter Half Marathon at Hampton beach on Feb 20.  It was going to be May 1st at Wallis Sands in Rye, but I saw this listed on and it looked interesting.  Then I went to the website and it said registration was almost full.     That pushed me over the edge.  Not sure why.

The Half Marathon distance scares me.  You can BS your way through a 5K,  but a Half is serious mileage.   I managed to survive the Manchester half, but I did horrible.  Walking a majority of the last 3+ miles.    Realistically, I know I won't be able to run the entire thing but I think I can do a lot better.  This time I have a little more time to prepare for it.    And this time I'm going to try to follow a plan.    I'm starting at the 6 week mark because I have 6 weeks to go and my base mileage was close enough to week 6.
So tonight, Thursday the 13th (week 7), I have a 4.5 miles run.  Of course it snowed two feet yesterday so I'm going to do the run on a treadmill instead of the slippery roads.  I hate being on the treadmill for anything longer than 3 miles.  Tonight is gonna be rough.  

I'm hoping to be around 200lbs for the half marathon.  I've been really focusing on the number of calories I'm intaking, and the scale is floating around 211 lbs.    With the amount of running I have scheduled,  I should have little issue with the goal weight.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goals for 2011

1)  break  the 200lb mark (15 lbs to go)
2)  break the 30 minute 5K mark (I'm very very slow)
3)  complete one, maybe two sprint triathalons without drowning, or needing to be saved from drowning
4)  complete 3 half marathons (all in NH)  Wallace Sands, Apple Fest and Manchester.  
5)  break 2:30 half marathon  time (again, very slow)