Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Human Race 8k

Sunday, March 20, 2011:

The Human Race 8K Race has a long Minnesota tradition, and is one of the 13 races in the Minnesota Grand Prix circuit of races. The weather can be an issue in March, and for this year’s race we were treated to a drizzly 41 degrees. A genuinely bleak day, except for the indomitable spirits of the runners. Over 500 hardy souls showed up for the 8k this year.

My race wasn’t great, coming off a tough marathon 8 days prior, and also fighting a cold (those are my excuses and I’m sticking with ‘em). I might not have hammered as hard as I could, although I thought I was doing my best. I know that I walked less in this race than in some previous Human Races. Time 44:07, pace 8:53, 7th of 9 in my 70-74 age group.

It's so wonderful that there are eight other old farts in that age group, just wish they weren’t faster than me! One runner, Thom Weddle, finished in 34:37, pace 6:58, which is a good pace in any age group and world class at age 70+. Go Colonel Weddle!

No pains during the race, but the left hip hurt a little afterward and the quads still smarted a bit from the hilly marathon.

Splits: 9:09, 17:23 (2 mi), 9:35, 8:00, 44:07 total. I LOVE that last, downhill mile, always do best there.

Thursday, March 17:

We ran for thirty minutes on paved trails in the park, a recovery run, first since the marathon. Only a little pain in the left hip, nothing else. It’s good.

Oatmeal (upper right), miscellaneous frozen and fresh organic berries and fruits, with kefir.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Land Between the Lakes Marathon

We didn’t find the Land Between the Lakes Marathon on MarathonGuide.com, for some reason, but we found it on MarathonManiacs.com. It’s a wonderful marathon (and 23k, 60k, and 50 miles) on a beautiful trail in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in the southwestern tip of Kentucky. We found no faults, have no suggestions for the race director. The race was perfect, the course was perfect, even the weather was perfect if you like it a bit warm. I’ve never heard of another race that would allow a runner to change distances during the race, not just down to a shorter race, but up to a longer one. It’s a hang-loose group, but they get away with it because they know what they’re doing. A trail race by trail runners.

If the race was perfect, I wasn’t. Oh, man. I trained for this race as best I could, almost entirely in the Stillwater Dome. The many corners are good for ankles, knees, and hips, perhaps, but the soccer surface didn’t prepare me for the hills, and today’s course was very hilly. According to the race web site, a marathoner will gain and lose a total of 2068 feet in the 26.2 miles. If that were straight up it would be four tenths of a mile, and I have a new appreciation for that elevation change when it comes as a long series of hills and valleys, the trail strewn with leaves, roots, rocks, and the occasional stream or muddy patch. No complaint about the trail, mind you, it’s exactly what a trail should be - I love this kind of running.

It’s a lot of work, though, and every muscle hurt, especially in the last six miles, especially the quads. Those hurt enough, toward the end, to actually keep me from running downhill. Since my muscles didn’t have enough steam left to run very far uphill, I was limited to running on the level in those last miles, and there really wasn’t much level to run.

Specific bodily failures:

  • Left hamstrings ached a little, off and on. Not a limiting factor.
  • Right quads hurt quite a bit, especially downhill. Limiting. Sometimes it feels good to exercise a muscle to exhaustion, but these were on fire and I was a little concerned about injuring them. Left too.
  • Lisfranc ligaments in the left foot started to hurt late in the race. Ho hum - it’s arthritis from an old injury.
  • The left calf cramped up. I was tiptoeing past a muddy patch and lifted my left foot over a log, which triggered the cramp. Imagine standing on one foot in a slimy bog, the other foot in the air, calf cramping painfully, and cussing a blue streak at maximum volume (that actually dulls the pain a little I think - I hope). The cramp eventually subsided, of course, and that left calf actually finished the race honorably. Maybe it’s good to have it cramp up once, and get it out of it’s gristly little system.
  • All muscles ran out of gas. I hadn’t trained properly for this race.
What else?:
  • Time 6:08:54, marathon number 49, state number 32, second of four in age group 70+, 76th of 105 overall.
  • I’m 70, and got beat by a 76-year-old from San Antonio. I hate that - not just getting beat by an older guy, but a guy from Texas to boot. Nice guy though, we chatted briefly after the race. He did have souvenirs of the race, bloody cuts on his right arm, said he fell several times.
  • I didn’t fall, but came extremely close three times, each time my right foot catching on some root or other trail hazard. Why always the right? Dunno. A little foot-drop going on? I think it might help to have glasses made for running - my bifocals can’t zero in on the traps that are just a step ahead.
  • I took six Clif Shot gels with caffeine somewhere along the way, and I think seven salt packets. I have no idea how much water - I had it refilled at many of the aid stations. I was SO GLAD that I decided to carry water rather than depend on aid stations alone.
  • Early in the race I watched a dog-like creature race at full velocity across the trail, perhaps 75 feet in front of me. It made quite a bit of noise and was gone in seconds. Colored like a gray wolf, it was the size of a coyote, maybe a bit larger. Another runner told me that coyotes are common in the Land Between the Lakes, and wolves are seen occasionally. I think this might have been a wolf/coyote hybrid, which I know does happen. In any case, it was clearly more afraid than I was, except if it had turned around, I’d have been looking for a tree. I had actually brought a knife on the trip, perfect as a defensive weapon against wild dogs or whatever, but had finally decided not to carry it on the race. Sometimes you should trust your first instincts. I wish I knew when to do that.
  • I passed a lot of runners in this race, and some passed me too, but for much of the race no one else was in view.
  • All of the trail was in a deciduous forest, quite primal. I’m not good at identifying trees without their leaves, but last fall’s leaves were still on the trail and appeared to be mostly red oak, or the Kentucky equivalent, and perhaps chestnut. I’d love to see it in summer.
  • The most spring-like plants were short daffodils, just coming into bloom, growing in clumps. We never decided whether they were planted by people or if they just decided to set up camp there.
  • Aid stations had grapes, bananas, oranges, M&M’s, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, bites of race bars, Hammer Gels, PB sandwiches, rollups of some kind, and more, not to mention the cheerful volunteers. As I said, this was a good marathon!
  • Sunshine and Sweet Pea finished the 23k too, well ahead of me. Good for them!
The end.

Springtime in Kentucky:

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sore Feet in Three Miles

Sunday, March 6, 2011:

For the first time in months, we ran outdoors today. Just three miles, on the paved trails in the park. The run went well, except for the usual slight ache in the left hip at the start, and I’m sure the pace was at least 10 minutes per mile, probably a bit faster.

When I got home in the shower, however, I found that the bottoms of my feet were a little sore. Imagine - from just three miles on pavement. I suppose the problem is that I haven’t run on pavement AT ALL, not even once, for more than two months. We’ve been in the Stillwater Dome or running on indoor tracks made of rubber. Oooo - I’m glad the next marathon will be mostly on dirt trails

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, March 2, 3, & 4:

Four miles each day in the Stillwater Bubble. A slight ache in the left hip appears at the beginning of the run and goes away in a mile or two. Ten-minute miles. Tapering. A total of 24 miles this week.

Dinner with two-cheese spinach:

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

These ARE the Good Old Days

Nearly eight years ago, when I was diagnosed with myeloma, the median survival was thought to be five years. As it has turned out, though, my own myeloma grows slowly, and for the last three years it has been controlled by a study drug. I can still run, if slower than before, and can still even do a marathon. I love running, and we certainly do enjoy traveling to other states to run marathons, 48 so far, in 31 states, since the myeloma diagnosis.

Myeloma can sneak up without warning, though. Even with ongoing treatment, it can eat through bones until they break. A full-body PET scan is pretty good at finding those lesions, but it’s expensive, so I haven’t had one in three years. Next week I will. I’m a little apprehensive, of course, because the PET scan could show lesions serious enough to make running inadvisable, but of course I want to know.

Either way, these are good times, with or without running. We’ll deal with whatever comes.

Forty minutes today in the Stillwater Bubble, about four miles. A slight ache in the left hip went away. The erratic pain in the right thigh appeared only a few times and was quite mild. I’m thinking it’s not in the femur, and we’ll know next week. Good run.

Pickled herring from Hagberg's Grocery, on gluten-free toast. Lunch: