Monday, September 29, 2008

Long Run # 1

I guess if it's possible for a 7-week 100-miler training plan to have a base building phase this past weekend was the first of two in this phase. Next weekend will be the last and I'll be in the real meat of the training plan.

This sounds so silly to me it's not funny. I know I can finish the MR100, but trying to figure out what to include in a seven week training plan is impossible. I guess the really important factor is getting the long stuff in. I could do speed work etc (and I probably will), but really I have to be ready for time on my feet.

So what is there to think about other than really running long? Not much.

Sunday afternoon I had time to think about exactly that, not much, and how exactly I thought I could do this. I took to the trails at Rocky Narrows and ran about 8 miles. It took me 72 minutes to compete the run, so right on 9 minute miles? That's not too bad considering.

What was really cool was the fact that I could actually run for that long! I wasn't fast, and my Achilles did complain a bit, but I ran the distance and have no after effects worth mentioning.

The run started out with light rain which turned to drizzle and finally stopped all together half way through the run. The trees and trail were wet so I was soaked pretty quickly. It was a warm day though (70F) so the dampness was fine. I spent the second half of the run stomping in all the puddles I could find which was fun.

Anyway, progress in the right direction. Today (Monday) I will take the day off. I iced the Achilles after yesterday's run, and it is throbbing a little bit today. Not bad, but best to let it rest.

Friday Run... not.

With the one-day-on/one-day-off plan I've been following I should have been out running on Friday. I didn't make it though due to the pouring rain outside.

It was warm enough, but to be honest I just didn't feel like getting wet and had only limited time anyway. I justified it with the thought that I'd be doing a "long" run on the weekend anyway.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Westborough - Wachusset Ride

Today was a perfect day. Mid-sixties and clear sunny skies, great weather for a 60+ mile bike ride to cap off the riding season.

I have been doing a little cycle commuting since Carter went back to school so when a friend at work asked if I'd be interested in joining him and others on their end-of-season ride to Mt. Wachusset and back I said sure, that's a great idea.

Ha! It turned out to be just Dave and I as everyone else had to skip the ride this year. Thankfully Dave went easy on me and was kind enough to wait for me at the top of each long climb. He's a very strong rider and while I could keep up with him on flat ground and downhills his full season of cycling had him very well prepared for the climbing we did.

We developed a pattern: he would ride effortlessly away from me on each climb and I'd then catch him on the downhill. My extra weight was both an asset and hindrance during the ride.

We did make it, though I rode perhaps 3 miles less than Dave since I bailed on the final climb up the access road to the top of the mountain. I didn't think I'd be able to get home if I tried that. Dave made it up just fine though.

So no running today, no time. Thursday will be a day off then Friday I'll hit the roads again.

I've Been Here Before

I've run four 100 mile races since I did my first at the 2004 Western States 100. That year I also ran the Vermont 100 where I really surprised myself and finished 10th over all in a time of 18:38. I was so excited by that time I had all sorts of visions of doing some amazing things at the 100 mile distance.

Unfortunately I let that "success" go to my head and began suffering from what one friend described as Decimalosis. His theory -- which he laid out in a very funny e-mail -- was that my success at the 100 mile distance caused me to think I could run any distance without really training and do well at it. He was spot on.

I finished the rest of '04 with a string of DNF's at distances between 50K and 50 miles. It continued into the spring of '05 when finally this "I can run any distance on no training" big headedness caught up with me and I suffered an Achilles strain on Heartbreak Hill during the Boston Marathon the day after yet another DNF (this time at the Don't Run Boston 50K) the day before.

This was 8 weeks before the 2005 Western States and I spent all 8 of those weeks vacillating about whether to run it or not.

A smart runner would have spent those 8 weeks in the pool or on a road bike. Me? Nooo, no way, I didn't do either of those things. In the last two weeks I finally panicked and got out for a couple of 2+ hour walks in which I would run the downhills and some of the flats.

So, with two weeks to go I decided to go for it and at least get as far as Robinson Flat and then go from there. I figured I could do that, but making it to Michigan would be tough and they'd probably pull me there.

Miraculously, my Achilles healed enough that I could comfortably run the flats and downhills and even some of the uphills so in the end I finished WS that year in 26:58. It wasn't easy, or all that enjoyable at times, but I finished.

So yeah, I've been in this injury-right-before-a-big-race position before and I've come through it. This time around I have done some riding so I'm not completely out of shape, but it isn't pretty either.

This time, I have seven weeks of training time too. I won't be able to do a lot in that time, but seven weeks of actual running is better than 2 weeks of walking.

Fingers crossed, with luck I'll get in a couple of 3-hour long runs, and come November I'll be as ready as I can possibly be.

History

So three months ago in June, I ran the Green Mountain Relay with my wife Lisa as a two person team.

It was one heck of an experience.

Back then I swore I would not do it again because I was miserable. I had strained my right Achilles two weeks before the relay and really shouldn't have been running the darn thing at all, but because of the planning it takes to do this, and the people that had committed to helping us, I felt like I had to run it.

I did, we did, and we finished. One hundred and ninety-seven miles in 34 hours, 42 minutes, and 28 seconds.

And then I couldn't walk. My Achilles declared that no, this was quite enough abuse for the year and it packed it in. I was on crutches for the next week and spend the rest of June and July hobbling around hoping things would get better.

They didn't really, so I finally got in touch with South County PT in Westborough where one of the PT's -- Eric Cardin -- prescribed twice-weekly sessions of Graston Technique and plyometrics.

Wow, I had heard how effective Graston can be, and also how painful it can be. Both rumors turned out to be fact, though the pain didn't come until they started to work on my calves which are/were tight from sitting at a desk all day long.

After six weeks of treatment I'm now back running. I started running again about a week ago and I've been on the road or trail every second day since then. My longest run so far has been 4 miles.

In a little under seven weeks I will need to be able to run 100 miles at the Mother Road 100 in Oklahoma.

I started this blog to track my progress mostly for my own benefit to stay motivated and to have something to look back on after the event, no matter how it goes.

Hopefully Well! ;-)

Cheers,
-Thomas.