Back from the dead (long)

This blog has been silent for way too long. And to the few followers I have, I apologize.

As you will soon see, I was busy.

I think my last post called out that I was looking for the fastest 5k of my life. Well, the year isn’t out. I have been training. Boy, have I been training.

Not long after that post, I let myself get talked into signing up for a marathon. (I admit, it didn’t take much coaxing.) So I’ve been running. My typical 30-70 minute workouts turned into multi-hour events. And that takes a lot of time out of your life.

But here it is the night before the race when I’m supposed to be sleeping, but no one really expects me to sleep.

So let me recap some training and major events.

1) Decision time.
I committed to the training early. I came off the winter feeling strong and in shape. And it’s just gotten better.

2) Commitment to a cause.
Running a marathon (Well, training for a marathon anyway) can be considered a selfish act. Not long after committing to the training I learned that a friend was running for a charity – fund raising and all. So I found one signed on. (No, I’m not going to solicit funds here. That’s not what this is about.)

3) Training.
There were miles. And miles. And hills. Track work outs. And natural disasters. And more miles and more hills. And a personal record.

4) Injury.
Not many people can put in the miles needed for a marathon and remain 100% healthy. About seven weeks ago I contacted a local acupuncture/massage/chiropractic office that specializes in endurance athletes. My initial contact was with the intent of just getting a little help staying healthy through the peak training weeks. Within hours of making that call, I concluded that “weird pain” in my ankle was an actual problem. I came to this conclusion hopping along the side of the road on one leg. This was one of those pains that an MD would treat by taking lots of pictures and telling me not to run so much. So I think I made the right call. Best of off, these folks were able to get me on track and feeling really good.

5) Coaching from an unlikely source.
That chiropractor I mentioned? Turns out he’s a certified running coach. We talked a bit about form and philosophy. This lead to part of the identification of why I had been hopping around on the side of the road on one foot. It also taught me how to do a couple things better. That lead to a personal record performance on a 5 mile loop that I had been working every Thursday. It was quick. And it felt great. I now run differently. There’s a lesson for you there. We can all learn do it better. We just need someone to show us a few pointers.

6) Weight loss.
A week before the race I was 10 pounds lighter than I was six weeks earlier. And faster. There’s no secret here. Do five weeks where you run between 40 and 55 miles each week and see what happens. Even if you eat junk you should drop a fair bit of weight.

7) Staying flexible.
I mentioned natural disasters. No kidding, there was a biblical flood. Most the trails I usually ran were well under water. And I had a 20 mile jaunt ahead of me. I was able to find something with only one water crossing (a bridge) that was just re-opened. And I ran it solo and self supported. The long runs in the past were supported by the charity organization I had found. They had someone go out and stash water. I went and did the same. Since I was stashing just for me I used individual 16oz bottles, and added in a gel pack and salt tabs. One stop even had a banana. While the group running was certainly more fun, self supporting meant I could carry less and have a few extras along the way. I will keep that in mind for future outings. One of the other training members lived in an area more impacted by the flood. She ran 18 miles just going around the block. I guess it beats a treadmill.

So that’s the quick-quick recap of my summer of running. The marathon is tomorrow. I will take most of the next week off from running. Then I use the volume, strength and weight loss I have put together over the last six months to tackle my 5k goal. After the PR on the 5 mile training run, it should be workable. It won’t be easy. It won’t be casual. But I can do it.

But what about the race at hand?

Well, I’ve been pondering race strategy between obsessing about the weather. Here it is, 11 hours until the starting gun, and I still don’t know what to do or what to expect. My last marathon was kind of a mess. At least the last six miles were. The first six were far too fast because I was running to the toilet. (TMI? Dude. Ask a distance runner. They’ve all done it.) My problem is, I’m suddenly down 10 pounds (which makes me faster), it’s almost cold out (which makes me faster), I run with a new form and cadence (which makes me faster), and I’m running 6000 some-odd vertical feet lower than home, 7500 vertical feet lower than my usual mountain route, and about 4700 feet lower than my typical long runs. All of that makes me faster. What that means is I have no earthly idea what I should expect. I don’t know what is too fast.

But I have a goal. And I’ve done the math to know what that goal looks like. So I’m going to start at pace for that goal. I will hold that for the first 10-13 miles. Then I will pick it up and hold that for the next 10-13 miles. Then, if I feel I can still push it, I will. And I will hold that as long as I can.

So in big picture terms, I guess we have a race plan.

Plan B? Go out too fast, hold it too long, keep holding it, and get carried off on a stretcher.

And with that, it is time to turn things off and pretend to sleep for the next six hours or so.

Until next time. Don’t let the fat man catch you.

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2 thoughts on “Back from the dead (long)

  1. Heidi says:

    Have a fabulous race, Matt!

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