Friday, October 5, 2012

Dry Spell

The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is 9 days away. Other than my post on getting a juicer, I've not written anything since early summer and this post is just a brief update with an explanation.

First, Toronto will be my forth marathon and the first one I will run barefoot. My intention had been to write about my training for this marathon using a program provided in a great marathon book, Advanced Marathon, which, in my opinion, is the next level of marathon training for me. That clearly didn't happen. The short explanation is that I lost my way, took the wrong path, if you will. I was having problems staying motivated and couldn't seem to successfully run any notable distance. I think the problem can be traced back to my little calf injury that happened a week after Smuttynose - one year ago. From that point on, things just compounded slowly, so slowly that I just couldn't see it, but things were definitely building. About halfway through my training for Toronto, which wasn't going as planned, I realized what was happening, I'd lost the joy of running. This acknowledgement allowed me to refocus on my love for running and let go of all the secondary noise. I reassessed my goals for Toronto, I let go of time and pace goals and set the obtainable goal of running a marathon I could feel good about. Ironically, the first step was giving myself permission to not to run the marathon if I felt I wasn't ready. I held onto the goal of running this marathon barefoot as running barefoot was the one thing that remained a positive throughout.

So, after Toronto, there are several topics I plan on writing about, some of which will be more detail of the above, and several will be about things I learned along the way, such as breathing, nutrition, mentality, and conditioning to name a few. And of course, my first blog post after Toronto will be about Toronto. Stay tuned :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Learn by Doing - Enter: The Juice

I've been considering juicing for a few days now and had been back and forth on whether or not to try it.  Yesterday I thought I had more or less decided to shelve the idea after seeing what a quality juicer costs, and suddenly thinking, 'why juice at all, just eat more raw vegetables', which seemed to make sense, right?   But this morning that answer didn't really sit well with me, I was missing some, I mean juicing has been around for a long time and the market is well developed for niche industry.  So I searched for an answer to my question, 'why not just eat more raw vegetables', and when I saw the answer I immediately saw the truth of it, 'because you won't'.

I'd been looking at different models of juicers and there appear to be two basic kinds, centrifugal and masticating, and of the two the latter seemed to produce a far superior juice.  The disadvantage of a masticating juicer is it takes longer to juice with verse a centrifugal juicer.  With this in mind I had more or less decided on a masticating style juicer.  If I had not talked myself out of it yesterday I probably would have selected a vertical masticating juicer, which is a relatively new take on masticating juicers, over the more traditional horizontal masticating juicer.  The vertical is a faster masticating juicer than the horizontal and takes up a little less counter space, but from what I could see those were about the only advantage.  The horizontal model is a proven design, can juice leafy greens better, appears to extract more juice and produces a drier pulp, is actually cheaper than the vertical, easier cleanup, is more versatile (you can actually make your own pasta with it), and is far more forgiving making this ideal for a beginner.

This afternoon I purchased an Omega J8006 Juice Extractor - it'll be here tomorrow.  I was hesitant about spending the money without learning more about it, but as I continue to search around online I realized the only way I was really going to learn was to jump in and try it for myself.  We have a local Farmer's Market every Saturday during the summer so I plan to pickup lots of veggies tomorrow to toss into the machine and start experimenting as soon as the machine arrives.  I honestly don't know where this will take me, but my gut tells me I'm on the right path to a healthier me.  While good nutrition is certainly a major component of running, I'm not yet sure how much time I'll spend writing about it on this blog.  I suppose it'll depend on whether I see a direct correlation between juicing and running.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Charity - Upper Valley Haven

Hello all, 

I'll be running the Covered Bridges Half Marathon (CBHM) for the Upper Valley Haven on Sunday, June 3rd. The race starts in Pomfret, VT, goes through Woodstock, VT, and ends in Quechee, VT. This will be my third year running the CBHM for this charity and it may be the last as I'm planning on running the Vermont City Marathon next year, which takes place just a week before the CBHM. 

I know times are still tough for many folks out there or there are other obligations that take priority, so please don't feel obligated to donate. However, any amount you can give helps so if you are able to give even a small amount, you've helped families that have fallen on even harder times.

Here's what the Upper Valley Haven does:

"The Upper Valley Haven is a private not-for-profit organization, founded in 1981, that provides temporary shelter for homeless families and their children, as well as food, clothing and educational programming to those in need.  The Haven has fostered independence by providing resources through our shelter Advocacy, Aftercare and Educational programs.  All services are provided free of charge."

If you would like to help me support this worthy charity, please visit my FirstGiving charity page by clicking on the "Donate" button to the right.

Thank you for your support, 


Update: We raised $808 for the charity, well over my goal of $500. Thank you for your generosity, I know the Haven was very appreciative of the support.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Peering into the Future

As I tend to do, I've been thinking about races far into the future, that being 2013. After my last marathon I decided I was done with trying to run a marathon too early in the year, i.e. February. Through Twitter I learned of the Vermont City Marathon, which takes place in Burlington, Vermont at the end of May. This marathon sounded great so I decided that I'd run it in 2013. The only problem with it is that it's one week before the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, in Quechee, Vermont, which I've run for that last two years and will run again this year. This event was my first race since embracing running and it's that best course I've run to date, so I've had it in the back of my mind to run it every year. I've also run (and will run) this race for charity each time. Now I'm sure there are plenty of people that can run a half marathon a week after running a full, but as of yet, I'm not one of those people, nor do I ever expect to be. So, this year's CBHM will be my last, at least for awhile. The Vermont City Marathon will also like by my most challenging as all previous marathons I've run (and will run - Toronto Waterfront Marathon) have been (is) relatively flat, Burlington, Vermont is one hilly town.

My fall race for next year will likely be the Baystate Marathon that takes place in Lowell, Massachusetts in October. I think I learned about this race early last year and was surprised I never knew about it. I went to college at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and I live less than an hour from the event and I'd never even heard of it before. When I went to Myrtle Beach to run my first marathon last year, I was shocked at how few of the locals seemed to know about this event, I think it had something like 17,000 runners (marathon and half marathon), I mean it was a lot of people jamming up the streets. The Baystate Marathon is considerably smaller than the Myrtle Beach Marathon, and since I wasn't a runner back in my school days, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that I never knew about it. It still seems mind boggling that there's not more general knowledge of an event that stops traffic and has several hundred to several thousands of people in the road.

I'm definitely decided on running the Vermont City Marathon next year, and I'm fairly certain about Baystate. The thing about the Baystate Marathon is it's convenient, so there's relatively no coordination required, i.e. travel and hotel arrangements, so it's possible that if another fall event catches my eye between now and then, well, I can always run Baystate in 2014. I've added countdown timers for both events in the left column at the bottom. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

When You're Green, You're Growing

I started running seriously about 2.5 years ago, which has essentially been all minimalist running. When I started minimalist, or barefoot, or natural, running, I was hard pressed to find resources about the subject online. Today there's a lot of quality information available about the subject, but with it has come an ever increasing white noise generated by people talking about the subject and passing themselves off as experts. As this noise has gotten louder, I've found I'm just not as interested reading about the subject as I once was. In fact, I can remember the last time I was really excited about a new barefoot running resource.

A couple of days ago my friend Alan T. posted a video title The Principles of Natural Running, by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella on Daily Mile, which is available from Dr. Cucuzzella's website Natural Running Center and is embedded below. After watching this video of Doc Mark running barefoot, I felt like a klutz, this guy is amazing, but more than that, he explains some of the things that have been sussed out by barefoot running guru, Barefoot Ken Bob (BKB) and many others. For example, the 180 steps per minute cadence, this is a principle that BKB discussed well before barefoot running got the attention it currently has. In this video, Doc Mark explains this as being our natural rhythm, one that can be seen repeated in many activities that we do, such as jumping rope. I found this video to be very informative. It reiterated things I've known, reminded me of things I've forgotten, introduced things I didn't know or really understand, and made me aware of several flaws within my own form. This is the first running resource I've been excited about in awhile and I plan on making use of the source website to improve my running, which I believe will result in making me a faster more efficient runner.

Update 2/11/12:
I ran another three miles today and I tried to apply some of the principles discussed in the above video. During both of these runs I've felt as though my lungs were the limiting factor, which I mentioned on Daily Mile for both of these runs. Not knowing what I was talking about, I thought I needed to increase my lung capacity, but, thanks again to Alan T. who pointed me in the right direction, it looks like it's a diaphragm strengthening related issue. During both of these runs I felt a slight pain in my right side under my ribcage, which I just assumed was a cramp, but was actually a stitch, which I found some information about here:

I wanted to add this bit to this post because I feel it's related to the above. I have a sense of being ready to advance to the next step, one I don't think I was really aware of other than having a desire to reach what I believe is my potential, which in simplistic terms would translate to a faster pace. Until know, however, the way hasn't been clear.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hyannis Marathon - Race Report

I knew this marathon was going to be tough, but I have to admit it was tougher than I let myself believe. As it turned out, this was my slowest marathon to date, although it was not my worse, that still belongs to the Myrtle Beach Marathon a year ago. The difference between Hyannis and Myrtle Beach is that I had the benefit of experience this time around. This time I managed to keep an overall positive attitude. I had expected to complete this race faster than my time at Myrtle Beach, which turned out to be overly optimistic, but even as things started to fall apart, I managed to take it in stride. 

I started out with a race pace of 10:30 min/mi, and for the first 5 miles I was quite pleased with how well I was maintaining that pace. After 5 miles however, my pace just continued to slip, which surprised me as I felt as though I was maintaining a steady pace. When I decided on a pace of 10:30 min/mi I knew, in the absence of my planned training, even that pace might have been a bit optimistic. The plan had been to adjust my pace as needed, but it turned out that my pace just continued to slip, 11:00 min/mi, 11:15 min/mi, 11:30 min/mi, 11:45 min/mi, all by itself. Reflecting back, I don't believe starting at an even slower pace, such as 11:00 min/mi, would have made enough of a difference to carry me through to the end at a steady pace. The issue wasn't pace, it was a lack of the conditioning required to successfully run 26.2 miles. Had my error just been running too fast in the beginning, I don't believe it would have become apparent after 5 miles as it did. I had also started to feel the fatigue set in well before the halfway point, which I believe is also an indicator of poor conditioning.

The wind during the marathon was between 18-20 mph, but other than that, it was a beautiful sunny day. The weather forecast predicted temperatures in the low 30s (°F) at the beginning of the race then warming to the upper 30s throughout the day. Dressing for this race was a bit complicated due to the wind speeds so I made my best guess and went with warmer, at least for the beginning. The course is a 13.1-mile loop that those running the full marathon would simply run twice. This halfway point provided a convenient location for my sister to meet me with some lighter gear if I felt I needed to dress down. Just after the point where the half marathoners peeled off, I met my sister as planned and I swapped out my running jacket for a vest and my skull cap for a visor cap. It wasn’t that I was burning up by the halfway point, rather it had became obvious that fatigue was setting in, so I figured at worse, a little cold might help to fend off the fatigue. I remember feeling a sense of dread at the midway point, I already felt drained and I had to run the whole loop again. I changed, buckled down, and just told myself to "get it done." Somewhere around 19 or 20 miles, as my body was giving out, I reflected on my training leading up to the race and I realized just how ridiculously unprepared I was for this race. From 20 miles on it was a constant struggle to keep moving forward, my legs were shot and I started walking/running, which slowly became more walking than running. The closer I got to the end, the further away it seemed to get. It must have been somewhere around 23 miles when I transitioned to mostly walking. I'd walk and then try to start running again only to get a few steps, I was spent and everything hurt. I tried to walk as quickly as I could, which I actually think helped loosen up my legs a bit. After many more false running starts I was eventually able to get the legs going for the last half mile to the finish line.

Despite this being a grueling race for me, I managed to keep my spirits up and cracked jokes with the race volunteers saying things like, "Am I winning", "Am I gaining on the leaders", "I'm getting ready to make my move any minute now", etc. I've only seen a few pictures so far, but I was really glad to see myself smiling in a lot of them. My sister even commented that she was surprised to see me in general good spirits at the 26-mile point and at the finish. I also made it a point to thank the volunteers as I knew they were hanging tight for us stragglers, and they were great and encouraging all the way to the end. I actually did have a good time, even while I was in agony. I found it all to be quite amusing and found myself chuckling quite often. I even laughed out loud at one point when my legs just refused to run. I was just not prepared to run this, yet there I was.

This race was very well organized and the course was not only beautiful, but it was just a great racing course in general. I know that if my training went the way it was suppose to, I would have PR'd on this course. What struck me about this event was the stark contrast between this one and the Smuttynose Marathon at Hampton Beach. I felt that they were more or less the same size, and just assumed that these smaller marathons didn't have the same perks found in larger ones, such as at Myrtle Beach. However, the Hyannis Marathon proved that assumption wrong. First, the Hyannis Marathon actually had a mini race expo, Smuttynose didn't have anything like this. Second, all the amenities I had expected to be at Smuttynose, but weren't, were available at Hyannis, such as a bag-drop, drink stations where they were suppose to be (cough), post race food was abundant and available for us stragglers, and the traffic control was excellent.

The course itself was just better than Smuttynose. A big problem with the Smuttynose course was a severe road pitch to the right, which is really difficult to run on and resulted in me and several other people I talked to during and after the race having some IT band issues. The roads at Hyannis were nearly perfect in regards to pitch, something I was very happy for. Smuttynose also claimed on their website that they are the flattest course in New England, but I don't believe they have a right to that claim. First, my Garmin, as imported into my, shows an elevation change of about 1,100 feet at Smuttynose, but only 800 feet at Hyannis. Second, it just seemed less hilly, and the hills that were on the course were gentle climbs.

Since this race is in February, the weather from year to year varies dramatically, which has resulted in the cancellation of the race in the past, so it's a hit or miss year to year. Nonetheless, I can definitely recommend this event if you're looking to run a well organized marathon in the northeast in February.

I have it in my head not to run another marathon at the end of the winter season. I ran Myrtle Beach last February, which ended up having temperatures in the 70s on race day, which doesn't really workout when you train in temperatures below 40°F. This time around I just couldn't seem to avoid injuries, which I think, in part, had to do with the colder temperatures. Here in New England, daylight is limited, which I've found just makes training that much more difficult. Oh, and lets not forget about snow, which increases road hazards and/or sticks you on a treadmill for most of the season.

When my calf got injured for the third time, I debated whether or not I should participate in this marathon. I had decided to go forward partly because the odds at that point just seemed against me which just made the challenge that much more appealing. To my amazement, I managed to show up to the starting line, I finished the marathon, and I managed to do it with a good attitude. It was a good experience and I'm glad I decided to go for it. I learned a little more about running and about myself. Nonetheless, I don't believe I would run another marathon if I don't feel I'm property trained to complete it. In the future, if I find I'm just not ready, I’ll know that when I decide not to run a marathon it'll be because I "won't" rather than I "can't". I didn't PR at Hyannis, but I beat "can't" and that's an experience that'll stay with me and maybe even carry me through to my next PR.

My thanks to my sister Natascha who hosted me over the weekend and provided the much needed logistical support to get me through this race and just committed to being there before, during, and after, and to her girlfriend Saraphina (@saraphina) who despite having a ton of work this weekend managed to come out and support me. To my parents for their continued support as I trained, a great dinner the night before, and for freezing their butts off during the race. To my sister Michelle who help me edit this post and has always been a support for me.

I also want to thank my running friends on Daily Mile with special thanks to Alan (@basicbare) and Alyssa (@alyssarun) for their encouragement and support through these last four months, visit their blogs at and, respectively.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Just a note. I completed the Hyannis Marathon yesterday. It took me about 5 hours 40 minutes, which is longer than it took me to run my first marathon about a year ago, and a full hour longer than it took me to run Smuttynose this past October.

If nothing else, this is a perfect example of why training is so important. The fact that I could even complete this marathon given my relative lack of training this time around (as realized during the run) is amazing to me.

I'll write up a small race report soon with a few more details about the course and the day in general.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Steady As She Goes - Hyannis Marathon In Sight

I find I have an ever present sense of disbelief as I get closer and closer to February 26th and the Hyannis Marathon. My training for my last marathon, Smuttynose in October 2011, went really well and I arrived at that race feeling ready. A week after that race I went out for my 3rd or 4th post marathon run and had a pull or strain in my right calf, which prevented me from running for a couple of weeks after. Other than being inconvenient, I didn't give it much thought. Little did I know that this injury would continue to rear it's ugly head. Needless to say, my training over the last 3-4 months has been sporadic, which prevented me from increasing my milage gradually and from just running those critical long training runs that get you ready for a marathon. It has been frustrating and a bit depressing.

In my last post, I laid out a last ditch effort plan to try and make it to the marathon. In that post I said the plan was not ideal, but it was "realistic". I later thought that "realistic" was incorrect, I should have used the word "possible". The truth is it was a longshot and, while committed to following that plan, I was also prepared to concede that fact that Hyannis might not happen if I got injured again or I just wasn't conditioned enough to run a marathon. The week leading up my last opportunity at a long run before the race included 3-6 mile runs after weeks of not running at all. I ran those miles with a bit of a cavalier attitude, I just felt that whatever was going to happen was going to happen and if I was so fragile then I wasn't going to be able to run 26.2 miles anyways. I then ran my long run on Sunday and was surprised to find that out of my planned 20 miles, I ran 19.2, which was well within my criteria for deciding whether or not I would be able to complete the Hyannis Marathon and therefore run or not run. That 19.2 mile run wasn't pretty, it was slow, and afterwards my body felt similar to how it felt after running my first marathon - everything hurt and it lasted for days.

Naturally, my muscles were very tight after this long run and I was constantly concerned that by running my scheduled miles in that condition, I was just asking for an injury to reoccur. I wasn't being so cavalier this time around because now, after completing that long run, I knew running Hyannis was "realistic". Ultimately I felt it was just as important if not more so to complete the remaining miles on the training schedule since my training had already suffered so much. I needed these miles, not just for my body, but for my mind as well. I took each run slow and continued to stretch, use my foam roller to massage my calf muscles, soak in Epsom salt bathes, and use my ultrasound as needed. After each run this week my legs felt a little better than the run before it and all in all things are moving in the right direction. Nonetheless, I remain weary of something going wrong before I get to the 26th and don't expect to shake that feeling until I'm actually a few miles into the marathon.

I've been considering my race strategy during my recent runs and plan to incorporate some of the things I've been doing in hopes that it will prevent a reoccurrence of the past injuries during the race. The following is a part of my post to Daily Mile for today's run:

As a result of my bout with injuries over the last several months, I've been starting out my runs slow to feel out how my legs are doing and gradually warm up the muscles. This seems like a good strategy in general and has been working out very well for me, so I'll incorporate this into my run next Sunday.

On today's run at about 3.25 miles I shot to the left to get out of the road for a car coming around a curb, and I felt a slight pinch in my left calf (as opposed to my troublesome right calf) which was an all too familiar feeling. I immediately dropped down to my What-About-Bob™ pace (baby steps), which I've been doing when ever I think something might be about to go. The thinking is that if something in the legs feels out of sorts, the pinch/sensation/whatever is the warning, ignoring it risk it becoming a sprain, pull, etc. The pinch didn't turn into anything else. Whether or not my reasoning is correct or not, it seems to be to me, so I'll incorporate that into my strategy as well.

Pace is going to be a little tricky to figure out. I know it won't be my target of 9:40 min/mi since the training just hasn't been there. With this in the back of my mind, I was initially thinking 10 min/mi, but this might not be realistic either. I'll probably settle in somewhere between 10:15 and 10:30 min/mi and try to adjust as things go.

I was very pleased with my fueling strategy during my 19+ mile run last Sunday, which is more or less what I used for Smuttynose - but more practiced. The trick here is to stick with the plan.

Runs left before Hyannis are 8 tomorrow, 3 Tuesday, 4 Wednesday, and 2 on Saturday. All I need to do is stay uninjured.

I just need to keep doing what I'm doing this and keep my goals in mind:

  1. Show up to the starting line, and 
  2. Finish the marathon. 
Just finishing this one is going to make this one memorable. I'm anticipating this one to be tougher than Smuttynose, but I plan to try and enjoy this one as much as I can.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Last Ditch Effort - The Plan

Less than three weeks to go until the Hyannis Marathon on February 26th.

I've been resting, stretching, soaking, rolling, massaging, and ultrasound, um, 'ing my right calf and legs in general.  Tomorrow I will run 3 miles to assess whether or not it's healed up.  The next three weeks will looks something like this:

February 7th - Tuesday:

√ Run 3 miles.  If injury free, proceed to next step. If injured, I'm out.

February 8th 9th - Wednesday Thursday:

√Run 5 miles.  If injury free, proceed to next step.  If injured, I'm out.

February 11th - Saturday:

√Run 5-6 miles.  If injury free, proceed to next step.  If injured, I'm out.

February 12th - Sunday:

√Run 20 19.2 miles.  [With this run completed, the decision is to run on the 26th]

Assuming I make it to Sunday, I'll base my final decision on whether or not to running the Hyannis Marathon based on how this 20 mile run goes. Realistically, with two weeks of not running and just a handful of miles this week before this run, I might not be able to finish 20 miles.  If I'm wiped out at say 15 miles, then I'm not conditioned enough to run 26.2 miles.  If I only get to 17 or 18 miles, then I'll assess my overall performance and decide if I'm conditioned enough to complete the marathon.  If I complete the 20 miles, I'll most likely run the marathon regardless of how well the run went - I'll at least know I'll be able to finish it.

If everything works out, I'll follow the last two weeks of the training schedule.  If I get an injury at any point along the way, I'm out.  On race day my focus will be on finishing the race, which means slow and steady.

I've been back and forth over whether or not to run this race - to just call it and move on.  In the end, I decided that as long as there is a reasonable chance at completing this race, then I have to try, to not try just wouldn't sit well with me.  While not intended, the question that now keeps me going is: Can I successfully run 26.2 with less than ideal training?  For this to be what I would call successful, my overall performance has to be better than my first marathon.  There is a chance that during the run something else goes wrong.  I'm pushing myself, but I'm not going to kill myself.  If my calf muscle pulls at 18 miles, for instance, I'm not going to try and run or even walk on it for 8 miles.

This is a last ditch attempt to show up at the starting line on the 26th, and as is with all last ditch efforts, it's not a great plan, it wouldn't even make a good plan C much less a plan B, but it is a realistic plan......


Monday, January 30, 2012

Yes, No, Maybe, I Don't Know

The correct answer is:  I don't know.

My calf issues is definitely the same issues that's arise before.  I've taken off last week and plan to take off this week at least until the weekend.  The schedule calls for a 10 mile run on Saturday and then 20 miles on Sunday.  According to the schedule, this would be my last 20 mile run (or in my case, my last attempt at 20 before Hyannis), the last three weeks have progressively fewer miles leading up to the marathon - the taper.

I've been using ultrasound therapy on my calf for about a week and I really think it's made a difference.  If, as I suspect, the recurrence of this injury is related to built up scar tissue in the calf, this should be effective in reducing that.  The first time this injury occurred, it took about two weeks to heal up, the second time took closer to three.  I'm not really sure why it took longer to heal the second time around, but it may be because my calf didn't fully heal the first time around - although one has to wonder how I would have been able to run all those miles, including a 19 mile run, between the second and this last injury if it indeed did not heal up fully.  It may be that this scar tissue just persisted and it was just a matter or time, or may be my calf was stressed just the right way when running on snow and ice covered roads on the Sunday before the injury occurred (January 21st).

As I see it, my options are as follows:

1) Attempt to run the 20 miles this Sunday, with a few miles on Saturday if not the whole ten to prep for it.
2) Throw out the schedule, continue to rest for another week, and run the 20 miles the following weekend (February 11th or 12th), with maybe a few miles before to prep the legs.  I would still get my two week taper in before the race.
3) Switch to the half marathon and just rest longer.  I'm not concerned about not being able to finish a half marathon.
4) Just forget the whole thing and move on.

The smart thing would probably be the latter, but I'm not quite ready to call it quits right now, and I'm not all that interested in running the half marathon - I think I'd have a bit of a sour taste in my mouth and just wouldn't enjoy it - that be especially true if I did run the half and felt I could have kept going.

The goal is to make it to the Hyannis Marathon and complete the marathon, with all things considered, option #2 seems to be the best chance I have to reach that goal.  On the other hand, my calf is feeling a lot better today and might be set to go this coming Saturday/Sunday.  I suppose one other option would be to blend options 1 and 2, I could try a few miles this weekend, run some light miles during next week, then attempt the 30 miles on the weekend of February 12th.  If I run this weekend, I'll know right away if the calf is not ready, that's is how it's gone before.  I'll continue to do the ultrasound therapy, stretching, and Epsom salt's soak, and try to get in some weight training for the legs too.

So, I still don't know, and I guess I really won't until the the middle of February.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Training Note from Mudsville :/

Things are not going well.

Below is what I posted to just a moment ago:

Not good. Went out for my scheduled 6 mile run and started having some right calf pain. This seems to be lower than what was plaguing me at the beginning of my training. I wasn't sure if it was the beginning of pull (as before) or if it just needed to loosen up, I was able to kinda hobble-run back and for a moment I thought maybe it was going away, but then it came back maybe a little more painful.

I'm really not sure what I'm going to do at this point. I'll stretch, roll, soak, etc. and see if it loosens up, but if it is the beginnings of a pull, then I think I need to start considering just bagging the mary on Feb. 26th. If my training up to this point had been solid, I'd just take the time off before the race to recovery, but my training this time around has just been plagued with issues.  This week was/is a step-back week, next week (Feb. 5th) will be my last scheduled 20 mile run - i.e., my last chance to get this distance under my belt before the 26th.

As I'm writing all this down - reading what's going through my mind - I'm thinking the smart thing to do is just to bag it and let my issues heal up. Maybe I'll do the above recovery things and take off from running until Saturday, then see how my two weekend runs go (6 mi and 12mi) before I make that call.

Things are looking grim in Mudsville.


I'm really not sure what I'm going to do.  There are several alternative options, such as, switching to the half marathon if I can or maybe look for another marathon a couple of months later.  I need to mull over it all some.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Update on Foot Injury and Road to Hyannis Marathon

My foot is doing fine.  By Tuesday morning, that bright reddish spot, shown in the previous post, seemed to have dissipate across the top of my foot and the color was close to my natural skin color.  By Wednesday, unless I pointed it out to you, you would not have noticed it at all.  There was some tightness in the foot, which I only really noticed when I flexed my foot.

I saw my bone doctor this morning for a follow up.  He did his exam and he thinks it is/was a bone bruise and he said I should build up the running slowly and at a slow pace (he knows I'm running a marathon at the end of February).  I did some more internet searching this morning and I'm not convinced it is a bone bruise (though it could be).  From what I found online, I think it could be Bursitis, and I think the same treatment recommended by my doctor for a bone bruise applies.

I'm not sure what the cause was in either case.  I've been running minimalist/barefoot for 2.5 years and this has never come up.  I have a suspicion that it might be related to doing some of my running in Merrell Sonic Glove trail shoes this winter, which are a minimalist shoe, but unlike the Vibram Fivefingers, which are best described as a foot-glove, the Merrells are definitely shoes.  While my injury occurred while wearing my V5F Speeds, I can't help but wonder if my form had gotten a little sloppy as a result of wearing the Merrells.  Specifically, I'm wondering if, without the feedback I get while running barefoot and in V5Fs, was somewhat muted and started to land harder on my forefoot.  I did actually notice a similar pain at the same location while wearing the Merrells on a run weeks before, but that pain seemed to go away by the time I reached the end of that run.  I should also point out that I really only suspect that running in the Merrells as the cause as it's the only thing I've been doing different recently.  It could also be that the cold has something to do with it (as indicated in the "Who is at Risk" on the Bursitis Page).

I don't have another follow up with my doctor and the pain is gone.  I have about 40 days before the Hyannis Marathon.  I have a 20 mile run scheduled for this Sunday.  In fact the remainder of my training schedule looks like this:

Monday  |  Tuesday  |  Wednesday  |  Thursday  |  Friday  |  Saturday  |  Sunday  
Cross      |  5 miles    |   10 miles       |  5 miles      |  Rest     |  10 miles   | 20 miles -1/22
Cross      |  5 miles    |   6 miles         |  5 miles      |  Rest     |  6 miles     | 12 miles -1/29
Cross      |  5 miles    |   10 miles       |  5 miles      |  Rest     |  10 miles   | 20 miles -2/5

Cross      |  5 miles    |   8 miles         |  5 miles      |  Rest     |  4 miles     | 12 miles -2/12
Cross      |  4 miles    |   6 miles         |  4 miles      |  Rest     |  4 miles     | 8 miles   -2/29
Cross      |  3 miles    |   4 miles         |  Rest          |  Rest     |  2 miles     | Marathon-26th

Right now, I believe my biggest challenge will be to completed the remainder of my training and make sure I can run on the 26th.  That means that if I need to reduce milage or even eliminate runs from my training schedule, then that's what I'll do.  What I don't want to eliminate is the two remaining 20 mile runs as I feel more than anything else, it's these runs that get me ready for running a marathon.  I may have to shift things around to get these done.  Tomorrow I'll attempt to run the scheduled 5 miles, what happens on the following day that will depend on how that goes, and so on.

I successfully completed my 5 mile run today (Tuesday) - no issues what so ever.  Ironically, I actually ran in my Merrell Sonic Gloves, but I focused 100% on form.  I had to make several corrections to my form several times during my run, even as I attempted to maintain a constant state of awareness regarding my form - if that makes any sense ;)  I discovered three key deficiencies in my form that I believe snuck into my running form due to a muting of the sensory feedback I get when running barefoot or in V5Fs.  Once I ponder it some more I'll write up a post about it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rocky Road to Hyannis

I've not posted anything lately as my training for the Hyannis Marathon has not progressed as well as I would have liked.  I've had a couple of injuries, some unexpected family obligations, and the holidays, well, I didn't really factor in the holidays when I set up my schedule.

Back in October I posted about my first injury, which was likely related to a complete lack of anything resembling a post-marathon recovery plan i.e., stretching, icing, soaks, more stretching, etc.  You can read about it here: Ouch - Post Marathon Note.  At the time, I was not overly concerned about this injury as my training was still a couple weeks off.

When my training started, I didn't get most of the runs in during the first week -  I figured it wasn't a big deal as I'd just finished running a marathon (see previous post).  Weeks two and three went alright, I manage to get in a few more barefoot runs due to some unexpected warm weather.  Week four was going OK until that Saturday, I went out for a scheduled 6 mile run and at about 1.5 miles, my right calf pain was back.  Since this had just happened to me, I immediately stopped - no trying to test it out after stretching it as I did the first time.  On the following Wednesday, I tried to head out for a short run - I got about 500 feet.  Not including that failed test, it ended up being 17 days before I ran again.  My first post injury run was 4 miles barefoot on a treadmill, during which time I was hyper aware of every little twang or twinge coming from my right calf.  I did a few more miles on the treadmill the following day, then rested for two - so far so good.  On that Saturday I ran 8 miles in my V5F Speeds and on Sunday I did 14 miles instead of the 16 as indicated on my training schedule.  On the following week I got in all my scheduled runs including a 17 miler - It seemed like I had gotten past the injury.

With 9 weeks left until Hyannis, my schedule fell apart with work obligations and Christmas preparations - I missed two 9 mile runs and only ran 5 miles when my schedule called for 12.  With 8 weeks left my week was going OK, though I moved my scheduled 19 mile run to January 2nd so I could celebrate New Years Eve and attend a New Years Day brunch, which lasted most of the afternoon.

This past week I managed to run 50 miles mostly because I ran those 19 miles on Monday.  I only ran 3 of my scheduled 5 miles on Tuesday, completely missed my 10 miles on Wednesday, which I had planned on making up on Thursday, but only had time for 7.  I got in my scheduled 10 miles yesterday and today, well, today was suppose to be 20 miles, which I was geared up to get done, but I only managed 11.4 miles.

During my run I started to have some pain in my right foot at about mile 4.  I continued to run believing that this pain would go away - I had a similar pain in the same spot a few weeks ago while wearing my Merrell Sonic Glove running shoes (another post entirely).  I had assumed it was related to running in the Merrells as opposed to barefoot or in some kind of Vibram Fivefingers as I typically do, but that pain eventually went away before the run ended.

However, as the miles passed on today's run, the pain remained persistent.  Making the decision to run less than my scheduled 20 mile run was difficult as a part of me was telling me I just didn't want to run 20 miles.  This run did feel like it required more effort than the 19 mile run had on Monday.  This is not an unfamiliar feeling, your body is designed to conserve energy and to do that it resists any kind of exertion - that's a big part of running longer distances - it takes mental focus to mute your body's desire to remain static.  Being aware of this, when I made the decision to change course I didn't really think anything was wrong with my right foot, but I knew as the pain continued it would become more and more difficult for me to override my body's desire to end this run.  I also told myself that if the pain went away by the time I got near the end (which would have been 14 miles) I could continue on to get some additional miles in if not the remaining 6.  At 11.4 miles, the pain in my right foot seemed to be overriding most other thoughts in my head and I just decided to call it.  

When I got home I started to examine my foot and, with the help of a google search, I think I've identified the area of the pain to be at the joint located between my proximal phalange and metatarsal bone of the toe located next to my pinky toe.  But, I think there's a possibility that it could be a stress fracture located on the metatarsal bone just behind that joint (Foot Bones).  I think I might be seeing the beginnings of some bruising, which, according to more google finds, appears to be a possible indication of a stress fracture.  Although that could also be from me pressing around that area to identify the pain.  I'll know soon enough.

If it is a stress fracture, well, that means more rest, which does not bode well for the remainder of my training.  I can do other workouts (x-ski, bike) to try and build up the endurance needed for the marathon, but the best training for running is running.

When my calf injury reoccurred and my training schedule was off track, I knew I would need to adjust my pace and finish time for the Hyannis Marathon, but I wasn't concerned about not finishing or worse, not even making it to the starting line, now......  Maybe I'm over reacting, but with the way things have been going since Smuttynose, well, I'm not so sure.


So here's what my foot looks like this morning.

So it could be a stress fracture, or something else.  Either way I need to let it heal which means time off (again) from running.  A poster on Daily Mile suggested alternating hot and cold soaks at 7.5 minute intervals - I'm not sure what that would do, but I've seen similar recommendations for post run recovery (I often to ice bath soaks for long runs).  My guess is that by alternating temperatures your body reacts by increasing and decreasing blood flow that has an effect similar to expansion and contraction, which in turn creates a flushing effect - like a said, just a guess.  I'll need to look into it a bit more.

Update 2!

I've done a little online searching and my symptoms are a classic indication of a stress fracture, although I'm not experiencing the sharp pain described.  I'm probably going to have to get this looked at by a doctor, which is NOT something I want to do.  But what's worse than just seeing the doctor is that it seems it can take awhile before I can get the results of an x-ray or worse, if the doctor can't see anything in the x-ray I might need an MRI, which takes even longer to get results - what the hell.

It sounds like the minimum amount of time for a stress fracture to heal is 4-6 weeks followed by a gradual increase in activity (i.e. running).  The recommended treatment for a stress fracture is rest and avoid putting pressure on the bone.  I don't really think I need to go to a doctor to tell me to rest for 4-6 weeks.  The benefits to seeing a doctor is to find out if maybe the injury is something else that maybe doesn't require the rest period and will allow me to run the Hyannis Marathon, or worse, like an actual fracture, although I don't think it is.

As things stand right now - boy I don't like saying this - I have a stress fracture and won't be able to run my next marathon.

Update 3!

I have an appointment with a bone doctor at 4:30 today (Monday).

Last Update on this Post!

OK - The bone doc did an initial exam, asked some questions, and ordered up some x-rays, which they did there.  He said nothing showed up on the x-rays that would indicate a stress fracture, but they don't always show up right away on x-ray's or even MRIs.  But, he doesn't think it's a stress fracture, he said it could be a burst blood vessel or a bone bruise.  I have a follow up with him next Monday.  So, while not a 100% "OK", it's pretty good news.

My Hyannis Marathon ambitions - which right now are showing up and maybe completed it with a respectable finish time - are not yet dashed :)