Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pain Returning, Hoping I Caught it in Time

These last couple of days, it appears that my leg has started bothering me again.  Thursday was the first day I started to worry, and now by Saturday, I'm more than a little concerned.

Wednesday: 5 miles and strength training at the gym, with biking to and from work.  It was quite hot in the afternoon when I ran, but it still felt decent.

Thursday: 5 miles in the morning with nearly 80 degree temperatures, certainly a hot day!  During and after this run, my leg did not feel right though it did not hurt.  I couldn't really find any sensitive points on my tibia, and kneeling/hopping did not aggravate it, so I figured all was well.

Friday: 4 miles, in the morning, slightly cooler temperatures.  I had concern the entire run because I could feel my leg.  It still was not pain, but I knew something was there, especially when I stopped at the end.  If I pushed down on the affected area, I could feel pain identical to what the fracture felt like.  Before this, on occasion it would be just a little tender, but no more so than other areas on my right and left leg.  However, this is the unmistakable type of pain.

I rode a borrowed road bike about 12 miles in the afternoon, the rear tire went flat, and I still need to adjust the fit a little, but it was certainly interesting to ride such a lighter weight bike.

Saturday: This would be my final evaluation of the pain and a decision of what to do.  Before the run, I could not feel anything in my leg.  During a very easy 7, discomfort was there and afterward, I could once again push on the area and create that grinding pain.

I don't know what this means.  The pain is unmistakable and it's there.  It is no where near the same intensity as back in March, but I know I have to stop running for at least a few days.  I was supposed to run a 10K tomorrow, but will pull the plug on that.  Thankfully, I didn't sign up yet anyway.  Just as I was starting to get it back together too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Split Time Makes Its Triumphant Return

I finally have some split times to record.  That must be a step in the right direction!

Monday: (no running)  Biked to and from work (13 miles) and did some strength training at the gym.

Tuesday: AM: 5.5 miles total with 3 at tempo pace.  It was already rather hot and humid for 5:15 in the morning.  I think it was nearly 70 when I walked out the door.  However, I'm loving every minute of it.  Bring on hotter temperatures!

1.5 mile splits:  8:59, 8:46...5:55/mile.

It looks like I'm running about 20-25 seconds slower than pre-injury.  However, I should hopefully get at least half of that back quickly when I get used to running hard again, and when I acclimate a little better to the heat.  Overall, I'm content with my current running condition.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Awesome Weekend: Good Weather, Good Running


I went for a hilly 2 hour, ~25 mile bike ride followed up by a 6 mile trail run.  I rarely do trail runs, and I've never truly "multi-sport" trained before.  I must say, it was quite fun to mix things up a bit.  This also served as a decent substitute for a long run.


10 miles, in just over 67 minutes on the NCR Trail, for the first time in a while.  Thanks to overcast skies and a slight rain, this run was much more pleasant than it might have been.  I got through the run with no pain in my leg at all.  My hip started hurting after mile 8, but it used to take 0.25 miles to hurt.  It's apparently still healing from that bike fall, but it should be fine!

That makes 27 miles for the week on 5 days of running.  The training wheels are just about ready to come off.  This coming week will be in the mid 30s on 6 days with a tempo run and a race.  I'm still planning on mixing in a few bike rides as well to fill in the gap of "missing running miles."  It seems I have done a sufficient amount of cross training during these past 2 months that my running speed, endurance, and (hopefully) tempo pace are largely intact.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Duathlon Training?

After canning Tuesday and taking Wednesday completely off including no bike or gym, I went out for 5 miles at 5:30AM on Thursday.  I certainly picked a good morning.  Even though it was a bit humid, the 60 degree weather and peaceful late spring air felt great.  I ran decently, but most importantly, my leg felt fine before, during, and after the run.  It also held up to a rigorous post-run hop test.  Thanks to a flat tire, I left the bike at home Thursday.

Friday, I brought my bike back out onto the road since it was after all, National Bike to Work Day.  I ran 3 easy miles in the morning, biked to and from all my stops (13 miles total), and did my usual strength training circuit at the gym.  My leg is still feeling good.

Starting this weekend, I'm feeling confident enough to start taking the training wheels off.  My first double digit mileage run will be tomorrow (10 miles).  I'm also going to get in somewhere around a 25 mile bike ride.  That should be a decent substitute for a really long run without having to risk doing too much.  It should also give me an idea whether I'm cut out for trying a 2 mile run, 25 mile bike ride, 4 mile run duathlon this August.  I'm pretty sure that I would be the strongest runner out there, but the question becomes how the bike plays into everything.  If this Saturday is remotely rewarding, I'll probably take a shot at it.

Thanks to taking Tuesday and Wednesday off from running, I'll also run Sunday to make 5 days for the week and between 25-30 miles of running, and probably throw in another bike ride if I have time.  I plan on 6 days and over 30 miles next week with that tempo run trying to make another appearance.  I have to start working on my 10 miler speed for the Baltimore 10 Miler.  I still have hopes of being in the mix for the win, but I have to put some work in between now and then.

The momentum is slowly building.  It's still too early to be committing to a marathon, but Philly in the fall is looking quite promising right now.  Redemption in the City of Brotherly Love...certainly sounds good.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not Making the Same Mistake Twice

It has been very hard for me to tell if any pain has returned to my leg.  In a way, it is certainly a good thing because it means that my leg is substantially better than it has been in a while.  On the flip side, if I want to avoid further complications, it can be difficult to decide when to back off.

Monday: 3 miles, easy-moderate pace + bike to and from work.  Towards the end of this run I experienced a little more than just mind games.  I think I may have had a slight twinge in my leg by the end of this run.  It went away pretty quickly.  On a scale of 1-10 with (1) being "fake pain" and (10) being the pain of a stress fracture, I would give it about a 2, maybe 3 if I was feeling generous.  Despite feeling the pain, kneeling down and jumping on my leg did not aggravate it (tests that once caused terrible pain).  I decided to proceed as normal.

Tuesday:  The plan was 6 miles total with 3 at tempo pace, first time running hard since my 5K.  I also biked to and from work today.  After starting, I experienced an ever so slight twinge that stayed there as I continued to run.  Other parts of me hurt more, and normally, I would not even notice pain this slight.  However, it was in the area of my stress fracture.  I threw caution to the wind and decided to just can the whole run.  There is no point in forcing the issue.

From what I have read, heard from my doctor, and other runners, it is possible and likely to experience pain in the region, even if it is nearly 100% healed.  You just have to listen to it and be careful.  So that's exactly what I'm doing.  I have had pain before that I've run through and watched it fade away.  It is possible that this too is nothing and could just fade into the background.  However, ignoring it cost me nearly 8 weeks and 3 races.  I won't fall into that trap again.

I also need to be careful with the bike.  Though it is not directly causing any pains, if I ride to work everyday, run 5 or 6 days, and do a long ride on the weekend, I don't really end up with a full day off.  That could be a trap to watch out for, as the bike certainly adds stress that I would not normally experience in running sub-30 mile weeks.  I may or may not run easy Wednesday.  I'll probably also drive into work on Wednesday, just to give my legs a rest.  On Thursday, I'll go for 5 or 6 miles (no tempo pace) and see how it feels after that.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Plugging Along, and Loving Those Running Miles

I think I have a new found appreciation for running.  I'm sure that feeling will be slightly scaled back once I start doing tempo runs and speed work again.  For now though, just being able to run feels so awesome.  A lot of the random pain I've been experiencing in my legs is abating nicely.  Most of it was just the "rust" of not having run for a while.  I remain ever vigilant of my left leg and continue to have un-found paranoia.  The real pain has not made a reappearance, despite my mind's best attempts to trick me.

Thursday: Bike to and from work (13 miles) and 6 miles of running.  Felt decent.

Friday: 3 miles easy, no bike

Saturday: 50 mile bike ride, not too hilly, easy pace.  I went from my apartment to the B&A Trail, rode down a few miles, then turned around and went back.  It was nice to not drive somewhere first.  I'm going to try and have more of my long rides start and end at my apartment just because it saves time, and I have the carrying capacity to take everything I need with me.  Of course, I was nearly hit by a car, in fact I would have been hit if not for my good instincts.  I don't think the moron ever saw me which I find hard to believe with my rear blinking light, neon yellow jacket, and yellow rear bag.  Someone also stopped me in what I think was a lame attempt to convince to accept God since the world is supposed to end next week.  Thankfully, I didn't slow down enough to unclip, otherwise I would have cursed that fool out for making me stop.  Oh Baltimore...

Sunday:  I was supposed to run the Delaware Half Marathon, but went up to work a water stop and cheer friends on instead.  Part of me was glad I didn't since it was humid and 65 degrees at the start.  However, after watching the leaders go by, and seeing the overall winner go through in 1:20, almost 1:21, I definitely would have preferred to take a shot.  Even in my current shape, I probably had a shot at first and the $200 that go with it.  However, there is always next year, and I always have a lot of fun working water stops.

I ended up running 7 miles in the evening, right through the heart of a thunderstorm, and it was awesome.  It cleared the humidity from the air and cooled everything off well.  The last two miles were just great, my stride felt like it did before I got hurt.  That feeling of being able to just fly down the road is coming back.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Some Running, Some More Biking

Things are progressing well, though of course I'm growing impatient.  After my surprisingly strong showing Saturday, I've just wanted to dive in head first.  So far, I've controlled myself.

Monday: Easy 3 miles, with a few miles of biking to and from the run, as well as to and from the gym.  Also did some circuit training.

Tuesday: Bike to and from work (13 miles total) and another 30 mile flat but fast ride.  My legs were feeling it, so I know I hit it hard.

Wednesday: Bike to and from work/gym (13 miles total) and a 4 mile run mixed in.  The run was actually really tough.  It was my first run in slightly hotter weather which I am no where near acclimated to.  Normally, weather in the mid-70s would be no problem but right now, it sucks.  In a couple of weeks my body will get used to it.

No pain (I think) in my leg.  I've had other normal pains, shins, ankles, knees, etc and I thought maybe a twinge in the area, but truthfully, I'm just being excessively paranoid.  I feel nothing resembling that sharp stabbing, grinding pain and most importantly, feel nothing while running or immediately after stopping.

Thursday and Saturday will have slightly longer runs.  Next Tuesday or Thursday will begin the reintroduction of the tempo run.  The long run will make its triumphant return the following week, then finally the icing on the cake...speedwork the next week.  By the time the speedwork is back, I should be in the high 30s or low 40s for weekly mileage, still a craptastic weekly total, but I must exercise patience!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fiesta 5K = Redemption!

After a very easy 3 miles Friday, I was looking forward to finally running a race again. 

-Is it wise to run a race a mere 2.5 weeks after being cleared to run again?  Probably not. 

-Is it smart to run an all out 5K when my weekly mileage going into the race was 4, 4, and 17?  Definitely not. 

-Was it realistic to try and run with the leaders from the get go after having not done a lick of speedwork for over 7 weeks?  Hell no.

It's a good thing I make my own rules.  The Fiesta 5K is a local race that starts and ends at Powerplant Live in downtown Baltimore.  The race is actually for a charity that raises money for ALS research.  A good friend of mine had quite a large team put together of about 60 people that had raised nearly $12000.  Even the race fee goes to the charity and counts towards the total.  Normally, I'm extremely anal about race registration, race preparation, and race attire and would not sign up for something like this.

However, I threw all that out the window for this just because of how important this was to my friend.  His father, who was a sub-2:40 marathoner in his heyday, has ALS.  There was really no way I could pass up running under their banner, even if it did mean wearing a cotton T-shirt that was too long, that almost covered my short running shorts.

Furthermore, I was out somewhat later than usual Friday and had a few beers.  It doesn't get more out of routine than this!  Regardless, the weather in the morning was perfect.  It was about 50 degrees with no wind.  It was cool in the shade and comfortable in the sun.

I lined up front of a very crowded start area.  The race was chip timed, so it certainly was not a small time event.  I didn't really care if I belonged at the front or not, I knew at the very least no one would be running over me for the first mile.  After the gun went off, I darted out quick but controlled.  I immediately identified the only runner in the pack of 7 that was for real and just waited for all the little girls, college guys that thought they were hot shit, and other dudes claiming they could run 5 minute miles to all drop off before the 0.25 mile mark.  Clearly, my sixth running sense is still right on!

I ran alongside "guy in green" and he mentioned he wanted to go sub-17 and asked me what pace we were running.  Of course, I had no freaking clue.  This was the first time I was running hard since March 13th, and kind of blurted that fact to him.  After running a few more strides side by side, I encouraged him to push harder and not hang around with me.  He listened, and I was quickly alone with runners hot on my heels.

We ran towards the water, cutting through Harbor East and eventually ran down Aliceanna street towards Canton.  I got passed by a pack of 4 runners on that street.  I was feeling somewhat sick and my body clearly was not used to running this fast so I initially just let them go.  As we approached Boston Street, I just did my best to keep the group of 4 in contact.  After a short stint on Boston St, we turned around and ran up to Fleet Street to circle back to Power Plant Live.  I had not seen any mile markers, but knew for the most part that I was running a decent pace.

Then, something strange happened.  The pack of 4 ahead of me was starting to string out, with the leader of the pack going after the overall leader, "guy in green" that I let go early on.  I knew 1st was out of the question, there was not enough time left and I felt way too crappy.  However, the other 3 runners in front of me weren't increasing their lead on me, and I didn't feel any worse than I did towards the beginning of the race.  I was expecting my chest to be burning badly at this point, as it usually did when I was really out of shape.  However, it was fine, and if it wasn't for the fact that I felt like puking, I probably could have been running faster.

So the following thought went through my mind:  "I don't finish fucking 6th at local 5Ks, I place overall.  I am not going to place outside 3rd."  With that thought I picked it up, not dramatically, but enough.  I passed the first two runners with ease, but had to battle with the final runner for third.

After running the straight shot down Fleet, we turned onto President.  The other runner was hot on my heels.  In fact he clipped me once or twice (by accident) so I knew it was close.  The leaders were still visible but too far off.  Based on my watch, it looked like I'd actually be able to break 17 if I held on.  As we turned again onto Lombard street for the final stretch, part of me wanted to give in and just let that other runner pass me and kind of dog it to the finish.  I was thinking that this had already gone so much better than expected, that sub 17 and 3rd vs over 17 and 4th didn't matter much in the grand scheme of things.

However, another voice, a voice of reason wouldn't have that.  It told me, you are breaking 17 and you are finishing 3rd.  There was no other option.  It's those little moments in a race that define a person.  Truthfully, it made no difference, but I wasn't going to settle for less.  So I threw down what little surge I had left, put space between me and that other runner, and comfortably beat him by 3 seconds.  I crossed in 16:53, and proceeded to puke on myself.

In the past, I was actually quite ashamed after puking, and almost never ran well when that happened.  This time though, I was fired up.  After one very fluid vomit motion, I just kept walking and spitting, taking it all in and feeling rather awesome.

With so much time off, I had just matched the times I was running early in the year, and truthfully have not lost a whole lot.  Speed is the first thing to go, so if I'm only 30 seconds or so off my PR which was on a fast course, than I clearly have not lost a whole lot of anything.

Most importantly, standing in the power plant live area in my Brooks T6s back on March 13th after a 5K eventually resulted in excruciating pain in my leg.  This time, even after a couple of hours, there is absolutely no pain at all, and I'm not lying either!  This is probably the best news I've had in almost 2 months, and now I'm eager (but still patient) to get back to the shape I was in when I ran that 1:16 half marathon.

Time to take back what's mine!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two days...9 more miles

So far so good....

I did an easy 3 in a downpour Wednesday morning and did some lifting in the afternoon.  Due to the rain, I drove to and from work, but did bike to and from the gym.

Thursday I biked to and from work.  Going there was fine, though my chain could probably use a good cleaning.  Going back took me almost twice as long.  A stopped freight train on Boston street, excessive traffic on the detours, a slow moving bus on Eastern Ave, and a closed portion of Madison Ave all conspired against me.

When I finally got home, I ran 6 miles and it was great.  I had absolutely no pain in my left tibia.  My hip and knee are still barking from the bike crash but it is slowly getting better.

That makes 12 miles for the week!  I feel that I lost less from an aerobic standpoint, but more from a neuro-muscular standpoint.  My muscles and bones are clearly not used to running, and I can certainly feel it.  This Saturday's 5K will certainly be an interesting experience.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Corner Has Officially Been Turned

So how does that cliche go?  It's always darkest right before the dawn.  Going into the weekend, things were still looking grim.  However, something happened Friday and Saturday night that seemed to set things right.  All my lingering pain from the bike wipe out faded significantly, to the point that I could sleep on my bad hip again.

I ended up doing 4 miles at easy pace Sunday and could still feel my hip bothering me, but not enough to stop.  My right knee which still has a nasty gash on it was also rather unhappy after the run.  Regardless, I got through it.

Monday, I ran another 3 miles at easy pace and felt better than I did the previous day.  After a couple of quick X-rays to confirm my hip and knee were not structurally damaged, I can finally say that I'm healthy.  The gash on my left elbow and right knee are probably going to take a while to heal, but even today, the knee is slowly getting better.

I biked through the city to do some errands and did two loops on a strength training circuit at my gym on top of the 3 mile run.

Tuesday I took off (having run two days in a row for the first time in weeks).  I rode to and from work, then took my bike on the BWI airport loop and part of the B&A Trail for a hard ~14 miler.  I was probably speeding since the speed limit is 15mph, but whatever.  When I finished the ride, for the first time in a while, I felt good, "in shape," confident, or whatever you call it.  The feeling is difficult to describe, but I've had it for most of 2010 and 2011 right up until I had to stop running.  I'm hoping this is my gut telling me that I'm healthy.  It was certainly right when the stress fracture was developing, I just ignored it for too long.

Here is the plan for the rest of the week:
Wednesday...3 or 4 miles + circuit training at gym (+bike commute)
Thursday...5 or 6 miles (+bike commute), maybe circuit training.  If not, I'll do it either Saturday or Sunday. (possibly no bike commute)
Saturday...5K race.  The test I wanted to do last week to see where I'm at racing wise, and to see once and for all if my tibia is back to 100%.
Sunday...Long bike ride, looking for 50ish miles again

4 days of running total, 2 back-to-back days, ~17 miles.  If all is good, I'll go for 5 days and 25 miles next week.  For now, no tempo, speed, hills, or long runs (except for that race).