Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Faster Than Expected

Monday, April 21, 2014:

Today's weather was the same as yesterday's, bright sun and 70, except add a 20 mph wind, gusting to 30!  I ran the same route, too, using the same 1 to 2 run / walk, but finished three minutes sooner, for some reason.  I believe I'll use that pace in the marathon.

4.87 miles in 55:20, pace 11:22, no pains worth mentioning.  Next-to-last tapering run.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Delightful Easter Run

Almost too warm, at a sunny and windless 70 degrees, but after the winter we've just survived, we loved it.  Gimme more.  To make it perfect, the ice finally went out from the lake, just today.

I ran the 1 to 2 run / walk again, hopefully sticking more closely to that plan than I did yesterday.  I ran 4.87 miles in about 58 minutes (gotta fix my 11-year-old watch or get a new one).  That's a pace of about 11:55, probably about right for that run / walk ratio.  I may use that ratio for the next marathon, we'll see.  It calculates out to a 5:12 marathon, so with nature breaks and the inevitable tiring and possible cramps, I could make 5:30 or 5:40.

The good news is that I felt no pains, neither from the left hamstrings nor the right knee.

Tapering now for the next marathon, bring it on!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Saturday, April 19, 2014:

The temperature was 52, but the wind whistled by at 20 mph, gusting higher, and the sun hid behind clouds, so I (over)compensated and put on two shirts, a wind jacket, and long pants. My "running Gear vs Temperature" chart clearly indicated just one long-sleeved shirt, but it doesn't account for sun or wind, so I added layers.  Too many.  I had the jacket open most of the time, and my legs didn't need the pants either.  Shorts and one less shirt would have been better.

Still concerned about the possible injury to my left hamstrings, I started with a 1 to 2 run/walk ratio, running 60 paces (about 20 seconds) and walking 120.  I took the "keyhole" route, starting at the Nordic Center and north to the 3-way stop, then around the big loop but not including the Klondike extension, for 3.79 miles in 42:47, and an average pace of 11:18.  No problem with the hamstrings!

Actually, though, I'm sure that I lost count more than a few times, absorbed in thought, and I felt strong, so I probably ran longer than I meant to and walked shorter.  Therefore, that pretty-good sub-5-hour pace may not represent a true 1 to 2 run/walk.

The only remaining snow on
any of the park's paved trails.

Friday, April 18:

A sign in the window of the park office says that bikes and horses are not allowed on the grass trails, so I assume that they are still pretty soft (& muddy).  The paved trails are fully open now, though, so I ran there once again.

Concerned about the left hamstrings, I started off with a run/walk ratio of 1 to 2, actually 60 paces to 120.  This went well until about halfway on the 5.9-mile route, and then I could just begin to feel the hamstrings.  So I switched to all walking, as fast as I could go, and that went just fine.  No more complaints from the hamstrings, just a little muttering by the right knee with PFS, nothing unusual.

4.88 miles in 1:00:26, average pace 12:23.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wood Ducks Are Back

They are such curious creatures.  He is quite colorful, she is drab, but together they are searching the trees for a place to build their nest, suitably close to water.  They arrive each spring, flying from one tree to the next, checking out knotholes and other potential living spaces.

After they find their new home, we likely won't see them again.  They'll be in and out of their home, but they don't sit on the front porch or in the trees.  When all of their chicks are born they will boot them out of the house, collect them on the ground, and parade them to the relative safety of the open water.

Thursday, April 17, 2014:

Because of overnight snow and cold weather, we ran in the YMCA again.  The left hamstring warned me right away, just a little, so I switched to 100% walking immediately, rather than exacerbate that injury.  It doesn't hurt at all when I walk.  Maybe it isn't really a serious injury, it hurt very little today and not too much more yesterday, but I'm not taking chances ten days away from the next marathon.

Splits: 12:58, 13:00, 12:51, 12:39, 8:48 (9/13 mile), total time 1:00:15, distance 4.7 mi, pace 12:49.  Add 30 seconds per mile because one mile on that track may actually be 13.5 laps rather than 13; the pace would be about 13:19.  That pace would result in a marathon time of 5:49 if it were sustainable.  Although I was staying on pace in the run, even speeding up in the later miles, I was absolutely walking as fast as I could, and probably would have to slow down eventually for one reason or another.  Let's not forget nature breaks, too.

This marathon has a 6:00 hour limit, so if the hamstring is still acting up by then I will need to walk just as fast as I can, and hopefully also run enough to make the 6:00 hour pace, one way or another.

Wednesday, April 16:

I started to do a regular run/walk on the YMCA track, with a ratio of 2 to 3, but my left hamstrings hurt a little when I ran.  If this is a problem, it may not be a small one.  I’ve had my running career sidetracked before by a pulled hamstring in the other leg, and it took weeks to heal.  Since we have a marathon in less than two weeks, I can’t afford to provoke those complaining hamstrings.

After a few laps I stopped running and tried three different kinds of elliptical machines, but didn’t really like any of them.  Because it didn’t hurt to walk, however, even when I walked as fast as I could, I walked for the rest of the 40 minutes that we three had agreed on.  I didn’t bother to time all of the walking, but I timed one mile at 13:30. I suspect that a mile on that track is more than the advertised 13 laps though, maybe 13 1/2, so my time for one mile would probably be 14:00 or so when I’m fresh.

Since a time of 14 minutes/mile would result in a marathon of 6:07 with no nature breaks, and two or three of those seem to be required these days, and I do tire toward the end of 26 miles, I will definitely have to run at least some of the way to make the 6:00 time limit.  I need to treat those hamstrings very carefully for the next few days.

Tuesday, April 15:

More running on the YMCA track.

Run/walk ratio for the first four miles was 40/100, and for the last mile 60/75.

Splits: 11:57, 11:40, 11:35, 11:50, 11:04, total 58:06, five miles, overall pace 11:37.

Monday, April 14:

Because of the potential blister on my right foot I took the YMCA’s treadmill this time, running at 5 mph (12 minutes/mile) for 60 minutes.  No problems, except I believe that I can run that distance in less time, or in the same time with less effort, by doing a run/walk instead.  In fact I’m sure of it.

Saturday, April 12:

We three ran on the park's paved trails again today, agreeing on a 45-minute run.  I ran 3.8 miles in 41:28, for a pace of 10:55.

Whining: I think that a blister has started on the inside of the ball of my right foot.  I'm probably turning my foot toward the inside as I run, to reduce the pressure on the wart that is on the other side.

Friday, April 11:

I ran 5.37 miles on the paved trails, a new route, just open today, sufficiently free from snow. The grass trails are still closed, and I can't wait for them to open.  I ran/walked 2/3, finishing in 1:00:49, for a pace of 11:19.

No whining.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Speed Work

Thursday, April 10, 2014:

Well, not really, but I did run the five-mile snow-free route in the park faster than I have before.  The temperature was 60 today, which sounds delightful, but the wind was 18, gusting to 23.  Running into the wind felt like running uphill, and with the wind felt like downhill.

Nevertheless, I did pretty well.  I didn't feel strong, especially at first, but I ran pretty well anyway, ramping the run/walk ratio from 1/1 up to 3/2 in the last mile or so, and sprinting the last few hundred yards.  That felt very good.

Whining: Zero.

Splits: 26:45, 26:08, total 52:53, distance 4.84 miles, pace 10:56.   If maintained for another 21 miles, that would be a 4:47 marathon, but of course that's not going to happen.  I'll probably try to run the next marathon with the ratio reversed, run 2, walk 3.

Tuesday, April 8:

I needed a longish run after the last marathon and before the next, and I guess this was it, just ten miles.  Again the park’s paved trails were beckoning, somewhat hilly, somewhat tilted (both ways), and now entirely dry.  I did the 4.84-mile out-and-back route twice, for 9.68 miles, taking water about every 24 minutes and taking Clif Shot gels (with caffeine) twice.

Though the temperature got up to 50, the northwest wind was pretty strong today, and I wore tights, with two technical shirts above.  That ensemble was just fine going into the wind, plenty warm going with it.  Maybe next time I would forego the tights, as I did yesterday in similar weather.

Whining:  The right knee with PFS mumbled just a little, but never very much.  I was careful not to aggravate it though, staying on the least-tilted part of the trail, and taking it easy both up and down hills.  I do that in marathons too.

Splits: 55:19 (4.84 mi), 27:27 (2.42 mi), 27:30 (2.42 mi), total 1:50:16, pace 11:23.  If sustained for 16 more miles, this pace would result in a marathon of just under five hours.  I was still quite strong at the end of this run, but I’m pretty sure that I would cramp up before reaching 26 miles, and of course I always seem to need an extra 10 minutes or so for nature breaks.  Therefore I’ll slow down a bit and try for 5:30 in the upcoming marathon, not 5:00.

Monday, April 7:

Five more miles on the park’s paved trails.  The grass trails are still under a snow pack, as are most of the paved trails.  But the park has kept a nice 1.92-mile stretch of paved trails clear of snow, and that route is now entirely clear of snow and water.  I do that twice, out and back,  and add another half-mile loop of paved roads twice, for a total of 4.84 miles.  It will be fine until more of the paved trails are clear and safe for running.

Today I didn’t bring my watch, but I did Saturday’s one to one run / walk, 20 triplets (60 footfalls) running and 20 walking.  I assume that the resulting pace was about 11:30 minutes per mile.

Whining:  None to speak of.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Recovery Runs

April 5, 2014:

After a two-day rest, I felt very strong for this run on the park’s paved trails, and did a run/walk with a 1 to 1 ratio, 20 second run and 20 walk.

50 degrees today, promising 60 tomorrow.  I’m so very glad to be running outdoors again. More trails will be open soon, as the snow finally disappears completely.  It will, won't it?

Whining:  The right knee with PFS mumbled a little, but didn't cause any real problem.  This trail does seem to bring out that PFS.  Otherwise I sensed no issues remaining from the marathon six days ago.

Splits: 27:27 out, 27:39 back, total 55:26, pace 11:27.

April 2:

This was the first real recovery run since the Ann Arbor Marathon.  I ran three miles in the Stillwater Bubble, starting at a careful pace but ending up feeling fine and running faster.  I didn't record the actual times, but the overall pace was better than 12 minute miles.

Whining: Zip.

April 1:

Two days after the marathon I was still a bit stiff, so I walked for 40 minutes, pace about 18:20, just a normal "brisk" walk with no sweating and no elevation in breathing rate.  It felt nice.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ann Arbor Marathon Review

The Ann Arbor (MI) forecasts had resolutely predicted unusually low temperatures for today's Marathon, and indeed we three have never started a marathon at a lower temperature, 26 degrees, with a wind of 9 mph.  Happily, though, the sun shone brilliantly for the next six hours, contributing greatly to our comfort, and the temperature rose to 45 by the time I finished.  All three of us finished within the allowed time window.

This was my 80th marathon and my 53rd since starting the drug trial that is saving my life, completed in a net time of 5:53:46, fourth of six in the age group of 70+.  They gave me an age group award, a nice beer glass, but I'm not sure why, because the fourth person in a road race rarely gets anything beyond the time of day.  Nevertheless I'm keeping it!  It's an inscribed glass, and if they want it, they'll have to come to Minnesota and get it.  :-)

My Race:

We parked the car near a high school football stadium that had warm, indoor restrooms, watched the sun come up, and walked to the start about three blocks away.  I wore four layers above, topped by a wind jacket, and running pants (& briefs) below, with a visor, ear cover, gloves, and my usual running shoes and usual thin Wrightsocks.  Around my waist was a fuel belt carrying six Clif Shot gels and, eventually, also carrying one of the shirts that I had started with.  This ensemble worked just fine.

This is how a marathon trouble
table should look

I started with the 5:30 pace group, and easily stayed with them for six or eight miles, actually pulling ahead a bit, but lost touch when I needed two nature stops in rapid succession.  I tried to keep a pace that would catch me back up, but couldn't do it.  Such is life.  No matter, I really only needed to finish within the marathon's six-hour time limit.  That was not in doubt until the final three miles, which included a wet, muddy, road and a plenty big hill.  I lost track of the mile markers (a few were missing) and got a little worried, but then mile 25 showed up and I was sure that I would make it.

For most of the last ten miles or so I ran with a young (younger) man from West Virginia, a sweet man, a gentleman.  He had the habit of thanking every volunteer and police officer, which I do too but may forget when I am very tired at the end of a race.  We chatted most of the time, talking about marathons and running and more.  I enjoyed this, and he seemed to as well.  He even adopted my strange run 60 / walk 120 pace, but when we got down to the muddy road and the big hill leading out of it, I could see that he was stronger than I was, and encouraged him to run ahead if he wanted to.  He did, and though I tried to keep up, I was no match.  I'm sure that he finished several minutes before I did.  He waited at the finish, though, where we congratulated each other.

The race director met me at the finish too, and took very good care of me.  I was a little wobbly at first, so she was a little concerned, but of course I was actually fine and she took me to the "awards table" where I picked up my finisher's medal and age-group award.  Bless her heart, she really didn't let me out of her sight until she could see that I was safely on the way to the shuttle bus back to our car, where my girls were waiting.

Finisher Don with surprise age-
group award.  I supplied the
Whining:  After 18 or 19 miles, when walking, I found myself dreading the next little run, and realized that it was because of pain from a wart in the ball of my right foot.  I need to fix that.  There is a whole internet full of ideas for curing warts, but if you have one that you have actually tried and it actually worked, I'd like to hear it.  In exchange, I'll give you this:  Instead of using sharp instruments to get through the callous that forms over the wart, so that a treatment can be applied, I use 3M Drywall Sandpaper, the kind that is a mesh with lots of holes for the sanded material to flow through.  This cuts the callous without cutting the softer skin around it.  I should have sanded the callous down before this race but didn't, and I paid the price.

More whining:  Toward the end of the race, especially after climbing the big hill, I had problems with cramping.  This is not unusual for me, but this time the cramps were not in the calves, but in various other muscles in the front of the lower legs and even in the hamstrings.  These slowed me a little, sometimes forcing a walk when I would have run, but in the last two mostly-downhill miles I was back up to speed.

The Ann Arbor Marathon:

This race is very well organized.  Almost any issue that I had with it traces back to the unusual weather.  For example, I didn't like the wet, muddy road or the extra hill that came with it, but I understand that this course change was required, to avoid ice on the normal course.  Stuff happens.  It is a hilly race even without the change in course, but we knew that when we registered.

Stuff I did like:

  • It's a modest-size, friendly marathon.
  • It started on time, and we were not impeded by the staging of corrals as we have been in larger races.
  • It was thoroughly organized, including a shuttle bus to take fatigued runners back to their cars at the start.  See the photo of the trouble table.
  • The expo was small but had everything that a runner might need and more.  We three helped staff a booth on behalf of the International Myeloma Foundation, though the real work was done by three other volunteers from local myeloma support groups.
  • Although we picked up our race numbers on Saturday, runners could do that on Sunday morning as well.
  • My girls heard robins, redwing blackbirds, swans, geese, ducks, and more.  Spring will come to Ann Arbor.
  • The race went through some of the best parts of Ann Arbor, including the downtown, the University of Michigan campus, several nice residential areas, and lovely trails along the Huron River.  No part of the course was boring.
  • The full marathon was mostly two passes through the half marathon course.  I actually like that.  
  • We ran past many buildings with
    this early style of architecture
  • In many places the course was on roads that were coned down the center, with the other half open to traffic.  This is not my favorite situation, but speeds were slow, traffic was light, and I never felt uncomfortable.

I liked the race, and would do it again without reservation.

I ran this race in honor of sweet Caroline, dear to me, who is also doing battle with cancer.

And of course, I ran this second marathon of this month on behalf of the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) (http://myeloma.org) to call attention to Myeloma Awareness Month, and to the IMF's Black Swan Research Initiative to find a cure for myeloma.

Splits: None.  My stopwatch stopped sometime after the half marathon point, so I ran on dead reckoning from there.  I must have unintentionally bumped a button. I was shooting for a 5:30 finish and was already about six minutes off that  time at the half.  But finishing is the goal, and it's all right.  Marathon number 80 is in the bank.  On to 81.