Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I am SO itching to run. The "abdominal wall strain" is barely detectable now, even when I do a situp. But I don't want to make the mistake of trying to "run through" this injury, because I think it will just get worse and I have seven or eight marathons yet to run this year.

So no running until next Monday, and then only a short distance followed by a "situp check" of the injured area. After that, re-evaluate. Maybe longer in a couple more days, maybe not.

Today, friend Jim and I walked 3.7 miles in about 1:06:00, for a nice easy walking pace of about 18 minutes/mile. Nice walk, nice chat. No pain.

Bison in sauce, onions, organic beans, organic grapes:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harbingers of Fall

On my long trail run last Monday, I saw a stand of sumac just starting to turn red. Moments later, I heard and then saw a flock of geese honking overhead, starting to train for their long journey to the south. Fall isn't here yet, but now I'm sure it's coming. I love fall. Not so fond of winter, but fall can be excellent.

No running yesterday or today, and none tomorrow or Friday, either. Maybe none for almost two weeks, as my "abdominal wall strain" heals. This afternoon I tried to do a pushup, but my abs said NO. I'll see if some stair climbing feels OK.

I'm still trying to figure out WHY I got that injury. I've run thousands of miles in the last 9 years, including more than four dozen marathons, with no hint of that particular problem. So what's different?

In five days I ran 40 miles, somewhat over my weekly goal. Further, I was wearing a water-bottle carrier for 31 of those miles, one which I keep fastened rather tightly around my waist so that it doesn't bounce on my butt. I suppose that could be a difference - I don't wear that in a marathon because I drink at aid stations. Does it squeeze my abdomen in some unnatural way?

In any case, I doubt the injury would have happened if I had paid more attention to core strength. Let that be a lesson.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Abdominal Wall Strain

Who knew? I’ve never heard of an “abdominal wall strain” from running, but that’s what Dr. V says, and it makes the most sense. My gut hurts when I come down on my foot but not when I’m pushing forward on that foot. Going up or downhill doesn’t make it worse. It hurts a lot, though, when I try to do a situp from laying on my back.

It’s the injury that comes BEFORE a hernia. Some of the muscle fibers are torn, but not most of them - the abdominal wall still feels firm, says the doc. He didn’t say that it would become a hernia if I didn’t let it heal, but I got that impression. Two to six weeks to heal, he thought, just don’t do anything that makes it hurt. A truss wouldn’t help. He did think that I might heal a little faster than most because I take care of myself. Hmmm. That would be nice - my next marathon is just four weeks away.

So here’s the plan: Tomorrow nothing physical. Wednesday maybe some upper body resistance training, but nothing that hurts, and I also have to climb some stairs before a 1:00 pm blood draw (to bring out the neutrophils). Thursday probably nothing except lots of driving. Friday maybe I’ll find some other aerobic exercise - biking, swimming, elliptical, whatever doesn’t hurt. That’s the first four days.

I doubt this would have happened if I had paid more attention to "core strength." Thoughts for the future.

Dumb Running

Monday, August 22, 2011:

Every training program emphasizes the importance of a gradual ramp-up in both weekly distance and long-run distance, to avoid overtraining injuries. I’ve been ramping up fairly carefully, I thought, increasing the long runs by only about 10% per week and holding to about 30 miles per week, with a shorter total every three weeks or so. But I didn’t think it through very carefully.

I start my weeks on Saturday, and last week, from Saturday through Friday, I totaled up 33 miles. OK, that’s already plenty long. This week I intended to shorten it up, with a moderate run today and a lower total for the week. However, looking back from today, I ran 18 miles last Wednesday morning, then a 4-mile race that night, plus 5 miles Saturday, so I had already run 27 miles in the last 5 days before I started this morning’s 13.2-mile trail run. I should have run short today, but I got greedy.

Two nearly-identical loops, one 6.9 miles and the other 6.3; I didn’t rush, walked some of the time, and felt great most of the way. With about three miles to go, though, the abdominal muscle started to hurt, the same place as last Thursday. It’s on the right-hand side, about two-thirds of the way from the navel down to the crotch. It really doesn’t hurt a lot when running, and it makes no difference whether I’m going uphill, downhill, or flat. It seems to hurt with the bounce at the bottom of the stride, especially on the right leg. Now, after the run, it also hurts plenty if I lay back and try to do a sit-up or a crunch, and I can pinpoint the spot pretty well.

What bothers me is the possibility of a hernia, or an injury to some organ other than a muscle. If it’s just a muscle pull, then I know the treatment - lay off it for a while, or at least ease up. Maybe ride a bike or just walk or whatever doesn't hurt. But I need to get an opinion from someone who knows more about anatomy. We have a lot of marathons scheduled for this fall, so I’ll haul this ole belly to the doctor as soon as I can get in.

Saturday, August 20, 2011:

St Croix Valley Runners. We had a big group today, because the group planned to go to breakfast at the Oasis in Stillwater after the run. We like to do that once in a while. We three couldn’t go to the breakfast because of a myeloma support group meeting across town later in the morning, but we ran anyway.

I found myself alone for half of the way, stuck between several speedsters and a few others behind. I did notice a little pain from the abdominal muscle in the very beginning, plus two cranky knees, but all of that subsided and the run felt pretty good. Eventually Paul caught up and we had a very good chat for 20 minutes or so. I walked up a couple of hills, to avoid antagonizing the abdominal muscle, and he slowed to walk too.

Five miles in 49:00. Considering the abdominal muscle question, it’ll do. It’s a masterpiece.

These photos are mostly taken on the kitchen counter. We recently switched from incandescent (halogen) floodlights over the counter to LED floods, a "greener" lower-energy alternative. But I'm not satisfied with the color that I get from the new bulbs. We'll have to experiment a little more. Anyway here is this morning's breakfast, mostly organic everything except the oatmeal, which is gluten-free:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tartan Terrible 4-Mile Race

Wednesday, August 17, 2011:

The Tartan Terrible is a goofy, cross-country, almost-steeplechase 4-mile race held in 3M’s Tartan Park. I love it and run it every year. It includes mowed grass, paved trail, gravel road, rough trail, steep little hills, and even calf-deep water. Runners are advised in advance to wear old shoes. It’s always on a warm Wednesday evening, and this year the temperature was 72, perfect for spectators and good enough for runners, all of whom enjoyed peanuts and cold watermelon afterward.

The course is not measured, but is probably about 4.3 miles. This year I needed 43:03 to finish, a half minute more than last year, but last year I hadn’t first run 18 miles earlier that same day. Ten-minute miles, it’s a good enough pace and I had an enjoyable run.

Now, though, it’s the next morning and I’m feeling a little bit of a groin pull on the right side. I sure hope that’s all it is. Anyway I’m already up to 33 miles this week, so no more running until Saturday, longer if the groin pull doesn’t go away.

Yours truly cruising toward the finish:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Legal Performance-Enhancing Drug

Wednesday, August 17, 2011:

Caffeine. I had an energetic long run last Wednesday, and another today. Both times I took Clif Shot Mocha gels containing 50 mg of caffeine. This time I took three gels, about 45 minutes apart, and did notice a pick-up from each of them.

I also ran the same Gateway Trail route and in the same fashion as last Wednesday, running 30 seconds and walking 25. It works - the walking helps with the PFS in the right knee and minimizes muscle fatigue, and the running helps with my back and gets me there faster. 18 miles in 3:15:00, for a pace of 10:50, not quite as fast as last week, but I’m fine with it. The last few miles were some of the fastest.

The right knee with PFS muttered and mumbled most of the way, but was never a problem. 20 miles next week?

Splits: 11:26, 10:18, 11:51, 10:02, 10:48, 10:58, 10:50, 11:24, 11:08, 11:12, 11:10, 9:50, 22:27 (2 mi), 10:10, 10:38, 10:08, 10:36.

Monday, August 15, 2011:

Not every day is a great day for running. Today I felt sluggish (definition of sluggish: like a slug). I ran 3.7 miles on the grass trails, and then enough on the paved trails to make five miles or so. Time 1:01, which is no great shakes. Oh well, another day will be better.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

No Walking

Except a little in the last mile. 5.8 miles in 55 minutes, for a pace of 9:29. Because the grass was wet from a hard rain, we ran on the paved trails. I was determined to run the whole way, but in the last mile the sun popped out and I melted like butter in a fry pan.

The pace was good enough, though, and the right knee with PFS didn’t bother much. It’ll do for today.

Lunch. Wild-caught canned Alaskan salmon under two cheeses, organic vegetable mix with a jalapeno sauce, organic fresh nectarine:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Someone Spiked My Metamucil!

I feel so good today. After 16 miles this morning, I ran another five with Rich and the Woodbury Runners tonight and felt great. Except for the right knee with PFS, actually, I felt wonderful. Toward the end of the run I was sensing a potential emergency and ran on ahead to the bathroom, at a (for me) very sprightly pace for at least a half mile, some of it uphill, and felt better than I had at the beginning of the run. Energized.

1:01 for the five miles, hardly a blazing pace (we walked some), but the last half mile was magnificent. I felt like I used to feel before the chemotherapy. I don’t really take Metamucil, of course, because a proper diet with fruit does the trick nicely, but something is different. 21 miles today and it’s time for bed and I don’t feel tired. It really is a masterpiece.

33 miles for the week. I’ll quit while I’m ahead. The next week starts Saturday.

As Good As It Gets

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011:

A few days ago I chortled about the wonderful weather, saying it couldn’t get much better. I was wrong. This morning was as good as it gets. We three ran the Gateway Trail in 63 degree weather, a bright sun flickering occasionally through the trees that border the trail for most of its way. No wind, low dewpoint, just about perfect.

I ran and walked, running 30 triplets, then walking 20. A triplet is three footfalls, a convenient measure because a triplet takes me almost exactly one second when I’m running. It takes a bit longer when walking. The 30 running triplets take 30 seconds, and the the 20 walking triplets take about 25 seconds. Seems boring, counting all the time, but it gets pretty automatic and there is plenty of room in the brain for other thoughts. Long division is difficult, but everything else is fair game.

I went 16 miles and felt stronger at the end than at the start. 2:50:20, pace 10:39. I was trying to take it easy, but that’s a pretty good long-run pace for me.

Two gels, two salt tablets, and 40 ounces of water. The right knee with PFS did hurt a little most of the way, but I’m happy. It’s a masterpiece!

Monday, Aug 8, 2011:

The weather is improving. This morning was cooler, though the dew point was still in the 60's and the grass in the park was pretty wet. But I enjoyed running on the hilly grass trails anyway. Not a too-energetic run, just a nice cruise in the park. 6.9 miles in 1:18, pace 11:18. It’ll do. 12 miles for the week so far.

Breakfast after this morning's run. There is oatmeal under there somewhere:

Saturday, August 06, 2011

St Croix Valley Runners

I think there were nearly a dozen runners at the St Croix Runners this morning. All guys, too, which is a shame. I don’t know where the girls were. Roy showed up, a rare treat. We meet at 7:00 am every Saturday at the Northland tennis courts in Stillwater.

Dave and I took the Lake McCusick route, and the others took Manning. Both routes are five miles. Dave went out ahead in the uphill part of the last half mile and I was last to arrive, but still finished in 48 minutes. I’ll take it.

There really is oatmeal under there:

Friday, August 05, 2011

Delightful Morning

Friday, Aug 5, 2011:

Another gallop on the grass trails in the park, early in the morning, with light fog still drifting through the trees and over the trail ahead. The temperature was about 65, not much wind, just a superb August morning.

I ran the full 4.8-mile loop, walking only going down the steepest hills, running up all of them. Finish time was 51:00, for a pace of 10:38, which is three minutes faster than the last time I ran this loop. It’s OK for this kind of trail. The right knee with PFS did hurt a little, which is why I walked downhill, but otherwise it wasn’t a problem.

Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011:

Twelve miles in the park, mostly on grass/dirt trails. I do love running on those hilly trails, even if it is a bit harder than running on flat pavement. The trails were a little muddy here and there, because of all of the rain we’ve had lately - an unusually wet July and already some rain in August.

I took water along, 20 ounces, and one gel. The temperature was modest, but not the humidity, and I got pretty warm. Sunshine said my face was a little red even after my shower, though that could have been from the sun too. The right knee with PFS did hurt some, especially downhill, but it wasn’t a limiting factor. Nice run, though, enjoyable. I had plenty left afterward.

Monday, Aug 1, 2011:

Five miles on the paved trails in the park. I didn’t have my watch, so I don’t know the time, but I suspect it was less than 50 minutes. We were concerned about a looming thunderstorm, so we had our eyes turned westward a lot, but we got back home before it hit. Good thing, too, because it hit so hard that power went out for an hour or so.

Nice run, some pain in the right knee, but easily tolerable.

Wild-caught Pacific cod, organic turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, onions, & strawberries, with organic relish: