Before I forget
The day before December’s Dallas Half Marathon that I ran with my daughter we went to the runner’s expo. There we were lucky enough to meet Shalane Flanagan, the recent winner of the 2017 New York Marathon. What a thrill it was to meet her! Turns out her husband has just started a job with Fleet Feet in Portland, Oregon so we had something to talk about. She is definitely a big running hero of mine. The woman next to her, my wife Linda, is an even bigger hero to me for always supporting my running activities!
Shalane Flanagan, 2017 NYC Marathon winner
Man, time flies when you have guests for the holidays! Now I remember why I don’t like early spring marathons. Not only are you training in the cold and dark but you are balancing it with a ton of holiday activities. The result for me hasn’t been too bad on the running front. I pretty much kept on schedule with maybe 2 skipped runs over 3 weeks. The weekly mileage isn’t high, but it really doesn’t need to be quite yet.
However, on food front? That exploded. Family dinners after lunches after breakfasts after dinners of high calories, high carbs, high sugar. Could I have avoided it all? Sure, but I didn’t. I wanted the ham and turkey and mashed potatoes and cookies and salty snacks and pies and… you get the idea. So, basically from Thanksgiving to New years I gained 5+ lbs. But, I had already gained about 5 from my eating a lot during my fall marathon training so now I am about 7-8lbs over my maximum best running weight and I can feel the difference.
In cliché fashion I waited until New Years Day arrived and then I avoided the potatoes and dessert and bread and Fritos and chips and salsa and stuck to meat and veggies AND I went for a run in very cold temps.
Cruella de Winter
It is cruel to call this a spring training session. Week 2 the temperatures weren’t too bad, but the week before Christmas and the week after were REALLY cold. How cold? I’ve worn three layers on top with a wool base layer, two on the bottom, two pairs of gloves (one set heated), wool socks, ski cap and buff for the last 4 runs, that’s how cold. My cut off for comfort is right around 32º. Below that and it becomes a challenge. It doesn’t mean I don’t do it, I still do. I just have a harder time running is all. Add in the Oklahoma wind and drop the temps to 15º and it can be pretty brutal. This is especially true if you have to run alone, as I did several times recently. ‘Misery loves company’ is absolutely true when it comes to running. If I have to run when it’s 5º wind chill, I want my friends suffering alongside me!
My longest run so far this season has been 14 miles, which isn’t a stretch considering most weekends since October I have been doing mileage close to that. But in two weeks I will move up to 16 and i will start to hit the meat of the training. I am looking forward to it.
My goal marathon is the Oakland Marathon in California. It has a wicked elevation profile to it (13 miles up, 13 miles down basically) so I am going to be doing a lot of hill workouts this season to help prepare me. I also looked up the average temperature on March 25th over the years and the average low is 49º and the average high 64º. If it’s around those temps I should be fine, even though I would love the start temp to be closer to 40º. The Marine Corps Marathon I did in October had a starting temp of close to 60º and ending temp at about 75º and it really only affected me the last 2 miles. My long-term goal is to get my marathon time to 4:05 or below. That means I need to average 9:20 per mile, which so far I have been able to do. Whether I can do that in Oakland, we shall see.
My Xmas present from my daughter Chelsea in Oakland
That’s it for now. If you would like to read more from marathon training series, click in the ‘series’ drop down menu above on the right and find ‘Marathon Training’.
See you running,
Wait a second, it’s not spring! Nope, it’s not. But, if you are running a spring marathon your training season starts in the dead of winter. And I am training for an early spring marathon in March which means I am starting in December! The marathon I am in training for is the Oakland Marathon in Oakland, California in March 25th.
I have two long-term goals in running. One is to run a marathon in every city I have a sister or a daughter. I have already run in Tulsa, Dallas and Virginia/D.C. I still have to do the San Francisco Bay Area (Oakland), San Diego and New York. I am tentatively planning to run San Diego in June and NYC in November. However, I need to get admitted into NYC Marathon as it is very popular and they only allow so many. They choose via a lottery. I won’t know about that until February.
The other goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in existence and it is also the most exclusive. They don’t have a lottery. What they have is a set of qualifying times. If you can run that time, you are allowed to apply for a spot in the marathon. Here’s the thing, you have to be REALLY fast to get in. However, the times are more lenient the older you get. For example, if you are 35-year-old male, you need to run a 3:10 marathon. If you are a woman in that age group, you need to run a 3:40. I would have to shave off over an hour to make that time. That isn’t going to happen.
But I am not 35. I am 62. But even the 60-64 year old qualifying time of 3:50 is not a time I am likely to match. HOWEVER, the 65-70 qualifying time of 4:10 is. My last marathon I did in 4:14 so I think it is realistic that if I work hard I can shave off 5-10 minutes and qualify at age 65. Here is the cool part. I don’t have to be 65 when I qualify. I only need to be 65 when I run the Boston Marathon. In April 2020 when they run the marathon I will be 65. However, their window for qualifying is from September 2018 to September 2019. That is only 9 months away from now.
The best early opportunity to do that is the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7th. That is a lottery like NY and I just found out I got in! It’s known as a flat and fast course and is popular as a BQ opportunity.
So, just to catch you up, I had Achilles Tendon surgery about 13 months ago. I had some nasty bone spurs removed and the Dr. had to detach my left tendon, cut the back edge of the Calcaneus heel bone off with the spurs, then reattach the tendon. The Achilles is the biggest and tightest tendon in the body and recovering from the surgery is slow. There was no guarantee I would be able to run again much less run fast.
But luckily I already was in shape and already had lost 25 lbs that I needed to lose (I went on to lose another 8 after the surgery). And because I already was fit I was able to get back into shape relatively quickly. Within a year I had run a marathon and had cut 22 minutes off my PR. That is what gave me hope I could actually qualify for Boston.
This Past Week
So, in addition to that Marathon I also ran a 5k, 10k, 15k and 2 Half marathons this year. The last race was the Dallas Half Marathon just last Sunday with my daughter Caitlin and her BF Sam. I didn’t pull back from my running schedule as a coach like you are supposed to do when tapering for a big race because it wasn’t designated as a goal race for me, just a fun race with family. I ran my usual 4 nights, Mon-Thurs, including a track workout and an intense hill workout.
This coming week includes the start of Fleet Feet’s Pathways program, of which I am program coordinator and head coach. That will add a new wrinkle to the training schedule but I will figure it out.
My total mileage for week #1 was 31.6. I hope to have most of my training weeks be in the upper 30s to mid-40s. My longest mileage week last season was 48.5. I would like to hit 50 once this season.
That’s it until next week!
See you running,
PS. If you would like to read my fall marathon training journey simply go click on the ‘series’ drop down menu and go to ‘marathon training’.
The Final Week
We flew into Washington DC on Wednesday. I had run both Monday and Tuesday evenings, about 4 miles each night, and planned just one more run for the week. This run would be in Virginia, on a beautiful trail near where my daughter lives. But before that we were going to have a full day on Thursday taking care of our Granddaughter Vivian. We took her to her favorite lunch place, the Silver Diner, then to see ‘My Little Pony – The Movie’. Then we walked through the mall to the toy department at Target and found her a My Little Pony toy and coloring book. I brought all my drawing stuff with me but never used it because I spent a good portion of the remaining days coloring in the coloring book with her. The ponies in My Little Pony are very distinct one from another, and she knows what color each one should be. She was not happy when I wanted to make one of them polka-dotted and another one striped, but she let me do it. Then we carved her pumpkin together.
Saturday we went to her Tae Kwon Do lesson that she gets from her Aunt and Uncle, who run a Martial Arts Academy. It was way cute to see her do her routines. We then went to a quaint little village called Occoquan for lunch and some shopping. As you can tell, playing with a 4 1/2 year old is a great way to distract oneself from an upcoming anxiety-inducing event. I was happy for that since there wasn’t much to do besides fret over the race if I wasn’t distracted.
I did do my final run on that Friday. I got out the door at exactly 7:55, the time the race was going to start in two days hence to see how the temperature would be. I had run this beautiful forested trail before and it did not disappoint. It was deeply wooded and cool, with the sunrise slipping through the trees as I ran. I did four miles and called it good.
The Marine Corps Marathon has about 30,000 participants. It’s the largest marathon without a cash prize in the world. That meant it was much wiser to take the Metro than to try to drive to the start in Arlington, Virginia. My wife was doing the Marine Corps 10k so we went together. I awoke around 3:45 and didn’t really go back to sleep. We left my daughter’s house at 5:45 and made the first Orange Line train at about 6:05am. We were the second stop from the end but there already was a crowd of runners coming in. Linda had a different start location than I did so we said our goodbyes when I transferred to the Blue Line. By the time I got off at the Pentagon Station it was wall-to-wall people. I then had about a mile long walk to the start line. Luckily for many there was a long line of bushes to one side. That meant men (and a lot of women too) were running off course into the bushes to pee. The alternative was waiting way too long in a line for some nasty Porta-Potty. I feel bad for the grass that died for me, but oh well.
Sunrise on Runners
I found Tulsan Jennie Loucks at the bag drop off. Great to see a familiar face.
The Sun was just peaking over the trees as the Howitzer sounded the start of the race.
Loud and low flew the Ospreys as they buzzed the crowd before the start.
I knew of at least 6 or more runners from here in Tulsa who were running it but the logistics of trying to find people in that crowd was not on my side. But I did run into one fellow runner, Jennie Louck from Tulsa, at the bag check line. It was great to see a familiar face. But we weren’t going to be running the same pace so we parted ways at the corrals. I went into the 4:00-4:15 corral just as the gun went off. But it took probably another 5 minutes or more before we started to move forward towards the actual start line. I could see the 4:15 pacer ahead of me, he was carrying 3 balloons with 4:15 on it. My plan was to keep him in sight with the hopes of eventually catching up to him. How crowded was the race? it was impossible really to weave ahead for at least the first 2 miles. Eventually I was able to move in and out just enough to catch up at mile 5.
By then we were over the river into Washington, and into Georgetown, on our way into Rock Creek Park. I went ahead of the 4:15 pacer at that point hoping to finish between 4:10 and 4:15. The park is a gorgeous, deeply forested area that goes through the Northwest area of DC. It was cool and quiet since there was no room for any spectators, with rock cliffs on one side and a creek on the other. I was feeling great and my pace was on target. I had one mile under 9 but that was a downhill mile. All the rest so far were right where I wanted them to be, about 9:15 – 9:30.
This was the crowd around me for at least the first 10 miles.
Miles 8 – 13
We then returned to the river and hit probably my favorite stretch. The Kennedy Center is right on the Potomac and it has a second story cantilevered over the parkway along the river. We went under the building for a while then came out to a big crowd of spectators. This included an amphitheater type setting at the base of the Lincoln Memorial’s river facing side. A long set of steps up from the river were filled with a cheering crowd. It was exciting to see after the quiet of the park.
Then we ran through the most solemn and profound part of the race. It’s called the Blue Mile (mile 11) and consists of photographs of fallen Marines along both sides of the road every 10 ft for an entire mile. This was also along the Potomac, on a very small park road. There is no crowd, just the river and a quiet golf course on the other side. We proceeded along the entire mile and I didn’t hear anyone speak. The pictures went all the way back to 1944. At the end of the mile there was about a quarter-mile of people holding up large American flags that we ran under. It was quite impressive and moving, to say the least.
The Blue Mile
The Power of Patriotism
Mile 12 and feelin’ good!
Backing up a bit to mile 9 or 10 I started to notice something not good in my run that could completely and utterly mess up everything if it continued. What was it? In spite of putting on a very generous coating of Glide (the anti-chafing stuff all runners use) I started to notice my left nipple was getting very sensitive. If you have ever been to a big race you may have seen a guy with ‘bullet holes’ on his shirt. the tell-tale red spots meaning his nipples had chafed so much they were bleeding. It’s just about the worst thing that can happen beside falling down. And it was now happening to me! YIKES, this could be a very bad thing indeed.
Luckily I knew that somewhere around the halfway point there was going to be an aid station for medical emergencies. While they obviously are there to help those in distress most of what they do is hand out Vaseline on a stick for those who are chaffing. In this particular case they just had it in their hands. I swiped a bit from a gooey hand as I passed and, with great relief, smeared it all over my chest. Whew, crisis averted! Of course my hands were covered in Vaseline at that point which made holding my phone to take pictures a bit of a challenge, but I did it. I was still on pace for the finish I wanted during these miles and feeling strong.
Miles 14 – 19
This is where the crowds got really big. We ran parallel to the reflecting pool down to the Lincoln Memorial area, then turned around and passed the Washington Monument. The last time I was in DC I was there at night so I hadn’t seen the latest addition to the museums along the mall. There is now a huge building housing the National Museum of African American History and Culture right at the western edge of the mall, near the Washington Monument. It is covered in what seemed to be dark brown lattice surrounding inverse and truncated pyramid shapes. It is solid and big and at first seemed jarring and unsettling because of it’s uniqueness. But that is part of the point of the building and it’s message. The African American experience is jarring and unsettling for many. But it needs to be seen and known by all Americans for us to truly understand and appreciate who we are. I stared at it for a long while as I approached. It was in stark contrast to the Monument it’s so close to in both style and message. And that is a good thing. It was as much a part of the profound nature of the race for me as any other part.
Some big random thing sticking up in the middle of nowhere
National Museum of African-American History and Culture © National Geographic
From there we went up and down the mall, passing some of my favorite museums, especially the National Gallery of Art’s modern building. Passing the Capitol, gleaming white, we came to the National Museum of the American Indian. Another building that seeks in its look and it’s content to open up America to who we are in totality. These Smithsonian buildings, while not ‘monuments’ per se, really are what I consider to be some of the best, most profound monuments to who we are as Americans in principle and action. They make me proud and I believe these are just as much what our Marines fight for as anything else.
Still on pace at this point but starting to feel the miles add up.
Miles 20 – Finish
At mile 19 we are headed over towards ‘THE BRIDGE’. This is the big cut-off point for the slower runners and walkers. If they don’t make the 14th St. Bridge by 1:15pm they get shuttled back to the finish line and don’t get to complete the race. Luckily it’s a very liberal time and it wasn’t an issue for those around me. This brought us into Crystal City and huge crowds. Then the scariest moment of the race – I almost fell! And I mean it was really close. I lurched forward having caught my toe on something and had to stride out 3-4 times not sure if I was going to fall or not. I caught myself just barely and was back up running. But the near fall made my left quad freak out a bit. I wasn’t sure if it was a cramp or an injury or what for a few seconds. I kept running and just hoped it wouldn’t affect the rest of the run. Luckily it didn’t.
Then all there was left was a 2 mile long stretch out of Crystal City, past the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery. The sun was up high, the heat was up too and there were no shade in sight. It was the only part of the race that I really felt my energy and strength start to wain a bit. I slowed down about 30 seconds per mile at that point but kept running. And then another unexpected thing happened. Remember that 4:15 pacer who I passed at mile 5? He passed me at mile 25.5! I really wanted to make 4:15 so it had me worried. But I trusted my Garmin watch’s time and calculated he was running just a bit fast and I would still finish on time.
They advertise the end of the race as being a true test because it is uphill. But looking at the elevation chart I knew it wasn’t THAT much of a hill. I mean really, how bad could it be, right? Well, it was actually a VERY steep final 200 yards uphill to the finish line! But with the finish in sight I wasn’t about to let some stupid hill slow me down. Plus there was a huge crowd at this point cheering us on. I hoped to find my family but it was just too loud and too crowded.
Sun at my back, finish line ahead!
I crossed the finish line strong and fast in a time of 4:14:49. I had made my 4:15 goal and a new personal record by 22 minutes!
A Marine Lieutenant gave me my medal, I collected some water and food and saw my family on the other side of a chain link fence. That was when I made my only real mistake of the race. I didn’t keep walking it off but instead went over to their side of the fence, found a grassy spot in the shade and laid down. Big mistake. I didn’t get up again for probably 45 minutes. My calves and feet went through some intense cramping that really did make me scream out in pain. I think I traumatized my granddaughter Vivian. She was not expecting to see Papa Marty looking or acting like that!
My Supportive Family!
Eventually I was able to get up and we walked it off, going over to the baggage claim and finding a place to eat. I was still pretty wiped out and incoherent at this point. We made our way back to the Metro and were able to get seats all the way home. I took a nice long nap and was up and at it later that afternoon. The next morning we got up just as early to catch a plane back to Tulsa. By Monday afternoon I was back at Fleet Feet showing off my medal, telling race stories and leading my runners in their active warm up before their run. No, I did not run!
After All That
And so, 31 weeks of surgery recovery (including running) and 19 weeks of intense marathon training led to a successful race. A PR by 22 minutes, a new found love of long distance running and most importantly, renewed love among my family and new goals into the future.
My family made this shirt for me to run in. It shows my ongoing goal, to run a marathon in every city where I have a sister or a daughter. I’ve done 3 and have 3 to go; New York, San Diego and San Francisco bay area. And somewhere along the way, if all goes right, I might just be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon. But that is a whole other story!
Coolest Shirt Ever!
Here are my stats for the race:
- Distance – 26.54. It’s accurate. I ran 1/3 of a mile farther than required (and probably everyone else did as well). They measure the course from corner to corner but due to the crowds no one is really able to run that exact same route. The runners had to go around corners much wider than is most efficient.
- Time – 4:14:49 (PR by 22 minutes)
- Average Pace – 9:36 (according to my Garmin, accurate for my true distance) 9:44 – Official race time (for 26.2 miles).
- Age Place (60-64) – 38th of 396 – top 10%
- Gender Place – 2,925th out of 10,757 – top 30%
- Overall Place – 4,187th of 19,993 – top 25%
Thanks to all who supported me at home and from afar.Thanks for reading these posts over the summer and fall and cheering me on. I hope this journey has been an inspiration for you and will help you on your fitness journey. Remember, if I can do it, you can too.
See you running,
If you would like to read the rest of the Marathon Training posts simply find ‘Marathon Training’ from the Series drop down menu on the upper right. If you have questions or comments, I would love to hear them.
NOTE: If you would like to follow my progress or send cheers during the race, there is info at the end of this post on how to do that.
The Waiting Game
So, now I wait. Or rather, I taper. Tapering is a needed but disconcerting time of training. It’s where you reduce your workouts in mileage and intensity as you get closer to your goal race. In the case of marathon it is usually 2 weeks with the first of those being just a mild reduction and the 2nd week being a much more severe reduction.
This past week I ran my usual 5 days but didn’t do as many miles and I didn’t do a lot of hills. But I did do speed work, even though I wasn’t planning on it.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
Over the past weekend we found out that the elder statesman of Tulsa running, Bobby Bomer, had to have emergency abdominal surgery. He leads our weekly workouts at the University of Tulsa track on Tuesday mornings and evenings. I was called to take his place on Tuesday morning. That meant a 4:45am wake up to get there on time. I was planning on just leading the warm up and encouraging people as they ran, maybe doing some light running, but not doing the sprints. But Bobby’s wife Judy was there to help lead so I gave into the temptation and ran. It turned out to be wonderful. It was the first true fall day, with temps in the low 50s as we started. It was refreshing and exhilarating. Later that day I led my usual group on our afternoon run (not speed work) and that same feeling continued. It was cool and dry and we ran strong and fast for the entire time. I was thinking ‘I hope my race is at this temperature!’.
At the end of our early morning speed workout the TU Students were warming up for theirs.
Reducing and Refining
The rest of the week I ran just the mileage I would normally run with my group, nothing extra, nothing intense. I also ran just what Pathways was running on Saturday, 10 miles. I didn’t do any extra before or after. It was odd after so many weeks of continually pushing the weekly miles up to be reducing them.
Strong Runners at Sunset in Broken Arrow, OK
Aches, Pains and Fences
One of the worst things about tapering is ‘ghost injuries’. I had 2 days this week where I ran with my big toe aching quite a bit. An injury? A problem? Serious? Long Term? What does it mean for my race? Will I be able to run? Then a day later it disappeared. My back was aching, probably will be a problem I am sure. Next morning, it was gone. I felt weak a few afternoons ago. Maybe the flu? A cold? What if I am sick for my race? But the truth was I just needed to eat lunch. What is that all about? It’s about freaking out about every little thing. You have invested so much for so long in running towards this goal that when you are so close you see the tiniest little thing as a potential game changer or ender. It does sometimes happen of course, but the vast majority of time it turns out to be nothing.
The other thing you worry about is doing some other random activity in these taper weeks that will wipe you out. For example, in the 2 weeks before my first marathon in 2010 I rebuilt a fence in my backyard. It had to be done, the fence was falling apart and we had 2 dogs who were about to get out. But it was back-breaking work and I came to the start line of the race with a very sore back. I learned my lesson that day – no heavy lifting, no DIY projects, no fence building in the weeks leading up to the race.
The old fence during a hail storm – note the chairs blocking the gaps so the dogs wouldn’t break through.
And of course I am constantly checking the weather for that day. What would be my ideal conditions? Probably about 45-50º to start and moving up to 60 or so, with cloud cover and just enough wind to keep the air moving. What does it look like it will be? As of now, it appears it will be about 53º to start moving up to about 70 by the time I finish with a mild wind. It will be part sun, part clouds. That sounds pretty good to me, I’ll take it.
Beautiful sky during our first true fall run.
Tomorrow we head off to Washington DC. If you would like to follow me and find out how I am progressing during the race there are a number of ways to do it. Feel free to spread the word to others you know who might be interested.
Go to the MCM website and you will find lots of options.
I suggest the simplest, which is the ‘RUNNER TRACKING’. All you have to do is type in my name or bib number (24944) and put in how you want alerts to come.
A cooler way to follow is to do the ‘MAP TRACK’. It has a map that allows you to see in real-time where I am on the course.
I am also registered with the MOTIGO app. You can record cheers and encouragements and they will be played wherever in the race you tell it to play.
And the very best way to do any of that is to download the MCM app.
That is it for now! Next time you hear from me I will hopefully be tired and smiling with a big medal around my neck!
See you running,
A Good Soaking
Do you know my favorite weather for a run? I will give you a hint: it’s the exact opposite of what many, if not most, people would say is their favorite weather. Many would say their favorite would be sunny and maybe about 80º, right? Most runners wouldn’t say that, though 80º isn’t that bad, at least not when you live in Oklahoma where there are about 60 days over 90º every summer. But most runners would also not say their favorite is my favorite because my favorite is rain. Yes, GLORIOUS EXHILARATING CHALLENGING ENERGIZING FUN LIBERATING RAIN! My favorite marathon (Dallas 2014), the one I crossed the finish line feeling best, was the one I ran in a torrential downpour from about mile 22 to 25 (with much of the rest of the marathon in light rain as well). How good did I feel? My last 6 miles were faster than my first 6. That tells you something.
Fleet Feet Runners in the Rain!
This week I had the best rain run of my life. It was raining and about 70º. But it wasn’t just that it was raining, it was that it had been raining all day and the streets were wild flowing rivers by the time we started our run. We ran exactly one block before we hit our first river and had to splash at least one foot into it. Within another 2 blocks we had already given up trying to avoid puddles and rivers because our shoes were soaked already. And that’s when it got fun. No longer worrying about getting wet, we were out to enjoy ourselves. We had a challenging 5 mile course that was new to most of us. We went up and down busy streets with driveways of water. We ran over sidewalks that had never been edged, had about a foot of width to them and about 4 inches of water. We ran down small town streets with puddles the size of small towns. We jumped, we leaped, we splashed, we oohed and ahhed. Most of all we smiled and laughed. Ok, most of all we watched where we were going to avoid falling into a pit or something, but after that we smiled and laughed a lot! We did what adults never get to do unless they are runners, and that is play in the rain.
After 5 miles in the rain, happy as a clam!
In the meanwhile I had an injury scare. On Tuesday morning I was doing my usual stretching and calisthenics when I heard a very loud and distinct crack in my rib cage while using some 5 lbs weights. It hurt and I immediately stopped. It felt like I had been punched really hard in my ribs. It was way up high on my right side, even with my man boob but under my arm pit. I got up and walked around. I breathed deep. I bent over. I sat down. What was it? A cracked rib? It certainly sounded like a crack, but maybe it was just a pop or a snap I heard, not a crack. The fact that I could breathe deep with no extra pain made me think it wasn’t a cracked rib. It was probably just a pulled chest muscle of some sort but I didn’t know.
I spent the rest of the day doing what I usually do and monitoring the pain level. It wasn’t that bad but it definitely was there. I have a pretty high pain tolerance so I have to remind myself that just because I can handle it doesn’t mean it is ok. I was pretty nervous about what it could be, especially this close to my goal race. What if it really was a cracked rib, then what!?
I went to my scheduled run that evening. It hurt as I first started running, the impact definitely was jostling it. But after a few miles it started to mellow out. After I got home the pain didn’t increase so I decided I would sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. Wednesday morning I woke up and it was a bit sore. I skipped my stretching that morning. I went through my day and by mid morning I had forgotten about it. By about 1 pm I was testing it and it surprisingly felt like it was barely there. As a matter of fact the only time I really felt it at all that day was when I laid down on the floor to show my wife Linda exactly what I was doing as it happened. I didn’t reinjure it then, just noticed the pain. Wednesday night I did the rain run mentioned above and felt great. Thursday I did another run of equal length and felt great. If I press in that spot I can still feel a soreness but other than that it’s like it never happened. Whew, crisis averted!
The Rest of the Week
The long run this week was supposed to be 16 miles. I did 3.5 miles with the half marathon group, then did 9 with my Pathways group. We actually did a mock Tulsa Run (their 9.3 mile goal race). We did a slow jog to the exact start line and then ran over 3/4 of the race course. We ended at the exact finish line.
Amazing and strong PW1 at the end of our mock Tulsa Run!
I had to quickly run back to the store to get some veggie trays my wife had made that I had in my car to bring to a nearby church for a funeral. I had until 9:30 to do it and got it there by 9:15, yay me! Then I ran back to the finish line and met the rest of Pathways as they came in. I took pics of them all and then ran another mile at cool down pace. That gave me 13.1 for the day and that felt like plenty. When you are this close to a race it’s better to be safe and end healthy than to push for a certain amount of miles.
Two weeks to go and now I start my Taper! More on that next week. If you would like to read the rest of my Marathon Training posts simply click on the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and pick ‘marathon training’.
See you running,
Week 16 – After a Long Run
After you run a long race you are supposed to take at least a few days, if not a few weeks, off to let your body recover and rejuvenate. But after a long training run it isn’t the same. You are still in training and you still have your goal race ahead of you so you still have to run. However, you should consider the punishment you put your body through on that long run and remember not to overdo it the next week.
I didn’t do that very well after my 20 miler and I could feel it. My legs were tired most of the week, my joints were aching and my muscles sore. I thought it might get better as the week progressed but by the time I ran my fourth run of the week I felt pretty wiped out. I was able to do all the runs and keep my pace, but it was definitely harder than usual. Luckily my long run of the week wasn’t a LONG run in the scheme of things. It was supposed to be about 12 miles. I ran 3 before the group run and 6 with my Pathways group and said, “You know what, I am good with nine miles.” and was done for the week. It was a smart move. It wasn’t much less but psychologically it was a good decision.
Also a good decision was stopping in front of Good Ol’ Ben and taking our picture. This house has a statue of Jesus as well. Maybe next time we will get a pic with him!
The Pathways 1 team giving the thumbs up for Uncle Ben.
Week 17 – The Even Longer Run
This is it, the big week! This week was shaping up to be the longest mileage week of training. I expected to hit get close to 50 miles and I did, getting 48.4. I front loaded the week with longer mileage runs and ended with a short run on Thursday. I was able to get in a bit of speed work and a progression run as well. Friday was a rest day and I needed it. My knees, which have never been a sore point, definitely had a bit of soreness and I was a bit anxious about that in anticipation of the long run.
The Long Run
What does a really long run look like? Here it is:
- Wake up time – 4:30am – Cheerios and a banana for breakfast (my long run habit)
- Solo start time – 5:20am – 4 miles – Electrolyte tablets at the start, water and energy nutrition gel at end.
- M2 group start time – 6:15am – 18 miles – 5 water stops with Nuun (electrolyte drink) and water. At 3 of the 4 water stops I had another gel and at one of the later water stops I had 2 more electrolyte tablets.
- Moment of Falling – 7:am (approx) – fell while gabbing away but was able to break the fall lightly with my hands and then roll to my right and get up. Slight scrape on my elbows but didn’t hurt myself and was able to keep running just fine.
- Finish time – 9:20am – Stretching, water, OJ and bagels at the store.
- Daylight Donuts – 10:15am – 2 jalapeno sausage rolls and a donut (another long run habit)
- Home – 10:25am – Jump in bed and watch Good Morning America with my wife while I eat.
- Later – shower, nap, football, post pics, second nap.
Those are the basics, But it doesn’t tell the story of how much fun it is to run with great people for that long. Conversations ebb and flow in an organic and natural way. We told funny and helpful stories about marathons (of course), the National Anthem protests and other social issues, ‘where the hell are we on our route?’, my unexpected fall (see above) which led to all sorts of falling stories, injuries, heart rate monitoring, fitness tests, beautiful homes and landscaping (which we saw in abundance), running through pain, long run recovery techniques including Cryo treatments (super dooper cold ice treatments that last 3 minutes), and more ‘where the hell are we on our route?’. And that was just a small part of what I happen to be part of. I overheard in the background a lot more talking among runners that I didn’t know what they were talking about.
Here are my stats for the 22 miles.
I have 3 weeks to go until the Marine Corps Marathon on October 22nd. This coming week will be less mileage and then I start my 2 week taper with even less mileage so I am in prime condition for the race.
That’s it for now! If you would like to read the other marathon training blog posts use the Series drop down menu on the right and choose ‘marathon training’
See you running,
In The Long Run
inside a long run are many short runs. These segments might be physical, emotional, psychological, but whatever form they take, they make for mini-ecosystems within the larger one.
My friend and fellow marathoner Cindy Knull wrote this last week and I thought it fit how I feel as a long distance runner.
“Running long distance is a metaphor for life. The sun sets and it rises. It rains and freezes. The sun shines and it thaws. Pain comes and we push through. The high comes and we exude joy. We fret and we revel. We fight and we win. We fight and learn to rise again. Sometimes we trip and get bruised, but we get up and try again. We get sidelined–for a season–then we come back new. We run in sun, rain, night, day, dark, light, winter, spring, summer, and fall, the cold, the heat, the wind, the freeze. Breathe in breathe out. Running teaches you perseverance in the face of immense obstacles, how to fight your demons, problem solve, meditate, joy in winning, coping with disappointment, how to handle loss, how to keep moving forward, and how to accept where you are but to know when to try harder. It teaches you your limits–it shows you where you stand. And it never lies or gives up on you. It will never take more than you give. It’s not a thing you do…it’s a relationship. My run, my pace.”
Cindy Jackson Knull
In The Long Run, part 2
My long run this week was 20 miles and it was definitely an example of runs within runs. I decided that anything would be better than running all 20 miles by myself so I chose to combine it with 2 races at Fleet Feet Tulsa to see if I could make it an entertaining and interesting outing. My 20 mile plan included 5k at 7:30am and a quarter marathon at 8:30am for a total of 9.65 miles. That left 10.45 more miles to fit in before, during and/or after those races. If I started running at 6am by myself I figured I could finish 8 miles before the first race. I knew I would finish the first race in under 30 minutes and could safely run another 2.5 miles before the second race started. My goal was to be at the start line of the second race needing exactly 6.55 miles (the distance of the race) to get to 20.
It worked out exactly as I planned. I had to zigzag a little on the final straightaway to the finish line to make sure I hit 20, but I did it. I finished the 20 miles in 3:10 for a 9:30 average pace. I felt strong and accomplished at the end. This helps a lot in further defining what I think I can do in my marathon. As of now I am shooting for a 4:15 time. Much will depend on the weather that day. We shall see!
The best part of the run was that my wife Linda was there doing the 6.55 mile Quarter Marathon as well. She is a Race Walker so I had a little time to cool down and get some food then went out to cheer her on at the finish.
If you would like to read the rest of the marathon training series you can do so by using the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and searching for ‘marathon training’
Thanks for your support and encouragement!
Last week we had Labor Day on Monday. That meant I didn’t have to coach. I could have run the ‘Escape from Turkey Mountain’ trail run but call me cautious but since I am not a trail runner (yet) I didn’t think it wise to go running around rocks and roots with a bazillion other people in front and behind me.
How I imagine it
Since I didn’t have to coach and I didn’t have to race that meant I was going to run on my own, right? Nope. It meant I was a lazy bum and didn’t run at all. I didn’t run the day before either. That means TWO WHOLE DAYS not running. Of course the Saturday before that I ran 18 miles so I had a ready excuse, I was recovering. And that’s just what it was, an excuse. My wife was also gone that weekend, off in Denver visiting her sister. So I ate pizza. And Cocoa Krispies. And Burger King. Why? Because I was bacheloring it. That was my excuse. And just to make sure I didn’t mess things up I skipped my morning stretching and calisthenics workouts over the weekend as well.
Ninja wanted some too
And I learned a lesson I have learned many times all over again. It is SO EASY to be a lazy bum. It makes me believe in the law of entropy. That is the law of the universe that says, and I will try to not get to scientific on you, if you are sitting on a couch you will stay seated on the couch until something comes and kicks you off. Wait, that might be a different law, they can be so confusing. Anyway, it’s the law that took over my life for those two days. Sometimes I like that law.
I also learned something else. I am glad my job is coaching runners. That job is the one that often is the thing that kicks me off the couch and into motion across the universe (or Tulsa, whichever is closest). So, Tuesday rolled around and I had no more excuses. I had to go to work and run. I like my job.
But seriously, if you are suffering from couchitis, find a group to do something with. You may not be a runner, but you are a something. Maybe a bird watcher, or a knitter, or a photographer, or a rock climber. It doesn’t matter. Find your way to a group and join in. You will find that the activity is just a small part of the benefit. The friendships you make while doing the activity are what will really become your joy and your motivation!
We are all different, we are all the same.
The actual runs I did do last week were pretty intense though. I scheduled speedwork for Pathways on Wed and Thurs and I ran both of those. That’s a lot of speedwork. My long run was not long in distance but it was mostly at race pace so it too was a hard work out.
Up next is what might end up being close to a 50 mile week. I have a 20 mile training run and will have to once again figure out how to go about doing it. Whether to do it completely solo or combine it with other runs. The problem is this week Fleet Feet has races so there are no organized training runs, either run the races or run on your own. My question is can I combine the 20 miler with the races. I will let you know what I decide to do.
That’s it for now. If you would like to read the rest of the series, click on the ‘Series’ drop down menu on the right and scroll to ‘Marathon Training’.
See you running,
Some of you may have heard of ‘The Blerch’. It is the ‘fat, little cherub’ that follows you when you run. You can find his story at ‘The Oatmeal‘, a hilarious comic website. He sometimes follows me too but recently I have been enveloped by ‘The Blur’ instead. The Blur is an aerosol spray can of fog that releases its contents over you during these middle weeks of training. It makes you unable to remember individual runs because it’s all just one big run. It makes you unable to talk about anything but running because there is nothing but running. It makes you into a calculating machine trying to figure out the perfect pace, perfect nutrition regimen, perfect clothing and gear. Then once you figure all that out it is the culprit behind why you forget it all and try to figure it out again.
ok, I remember this one! Pathways PW1 in Broken Arrow after the 7 Hills of Hell
I have ‘The Blur’ bad right now. I want to tell you about specific runs but I don’t remember them for the most part. I can tell you about my 18 miler, because it was 2 days ago. But before that? A big blur. All I know is I ran a LOT in August, 156.5 miles to be exact. That is up 16.5 miles from July and is the most I’ve ever run in a month. To give you some perspective and to keep me humble, elite marathoners can easily run 100 miles in a week of training. So my 150 isn’t all that much by that count. But then again my Garmin statistics say it’s more than 99% of other runners my age (60-64) so enough of being humble, I did awesome!
The 18 miler
The memorable run was my longest yet of the training season and I had a lot of anxiety about it before hand. I was torn whether to do it on Saturday when all the groups I lead were running, or whether to just run the minimum on Saturday and get the 18 miles in on Sunday. Running long miles on your own is problematic though since you have to figure out a route, figure out how to have water available or stashed along the way, and get yourself out there to do it before the heat of the day takes you out. I knew Sunday was going to be hot and sunny.
But running with my groups means breaking up the long run into segments and I don’t want to have too much downtime between those segments. Plus I will still have to run most of it solo anyway. But I would have water, electrolyte drink, bathrooms and a route all taken care of in advance. I also knew that Saturday was supposed to be overcast and cooler.
The only pic I took during my long run
Rain Rain, Don’t Go Away
The difference in conditions made me choose Saturday. And it turned out to be my perfect conditions. What are those? First, overcast. Second, temps in the 60s. Third, RAIN. Yep, I love love love running in the rain…IF it’s not too cold or too much of a downpour. This rain was perfect. Rain is exhilarating, it’s cooling, it’s fun, and it makes you feel like a badass. My favorite marathon (Dallas, 2014) was in a light rain, WITH a torrential downpour from miles 22-25. It didn’t matter, I loved it and had my best finish ever as a result.
I had to run the 18 miles in segments, but it was very short downtime between them. I have 45 minutes between when the half marathoners take off and when my 15k runners take off. So, I ran 2 miles with my H2 half marathon group then turned around and headed back to the store. One of my coaches, Susan, was on her way back as well so we ran the 2 miles back together. Pathways, the 15k program I lead, was ready to go by the time we got back. I had just enough time to take some Endurolyte tablets, a Huma energy gel and go to the bathroom and we were off. I ran 4.5 miles with them.
Then I was on my own with 10 miles to go. I had a 4+ mile route that I had already done twice so it was a no brainer to follow that a few more times. That way I would have water along the way and wouldn’t have to think about the route very much. Even with that I did make a wrong turn but it was no big deal, I knew where I was and it added some needed distance anyway. The rain lightened then stopped by about mile 15, when I hit my final water stop. I called my wife at that point because I knew she was on her way to the airport to fly to Denver to visit her sister for the long weekend. That bit of rest made me ready to push out the final 3 miles. I felt great and was able to run the final 3 at the fastest pace of the entire run. I felt like I easily could have gone another 2-3 miles.
That is it for this week. Next week will be more of the same but less mileage on my long run. 7 weeks to go!
If you would like to read more of the series, you can find it here.
If you have advice or comments please feel free to do so here or connect with me on any social media. Just look up NapkinDad and you will find me.
Between the Charlottesville issue, family visiting and the start of a new season of Pathways, I haven’t updated my training for the marathon in the past 2 weeks. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been running. As a matter of fact I had my longest run and longest week yet.
If you saw the movie ‘Race’ last year, about Jesse Owen’s track triumphs in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, you know that there was an argument about whether he should participate or not. Don’t participate and you send a strong message that you will not contribute to the justification of the Nazi regime. Do participate and maybe prove their theory of Aryan racial supremacy false. In the end Owens, an African-American, participated and won four Gold Medals, definitively proving that theory wrong. Now it’s 80 years later and we just witnessed a gathering of people who believe in the same things Hitler believed in, that they are the superior race. It is sad and disturbing and wrong. But how do we overcome that in ourselves or in others?
I was thinking about this the other day in relation to running, how running is a great equalizer. I run with everyone; old and young, thin and wide, tall and short, male and female, black, white, brown, and more. Long haired blondes and bald, muscled macho types. People who are really quiet and people who are really talkative. Ambitious, competitive people and easy-going, mellow people. Really, really fast people and really, really slow people.
I also run with are CEOs, garbage collectors, homemakers, unemployed, retired, middle managers, entrepreneurs, burger flippers, orphans, widows and widowers, liberals and conservatives. I also run with black people and gay people and transgender people and recent immigrants (legal or otherwise) and ancestors of the Mayflower generation.
But who do I REALLY run with? I run with friends. Their identity is based on their desire to run, not the value of their pocketbook, the color of their skin or their agreement with my political ideas. I like that. It doesn’t solve the world’s problems, but it certainly helps.
The past two weeks have been pretty hot and humid, but I was still able to reach my goal of 30-40 miles each week. I have become a bit obsessed with those numbers because it’s an easy way for me to gauge my progress. I know it isn’t as important as quality workouts, but it’s easier to quantify and it’s my version of fun math. What I do is figure out day by day what my mileage is while I calculate what I will have to do the rest of the week to get to 30+. If it is a really long run on Saturday it usually isn’t a problem. Unless the long run distance will get me to 39.5 miles, which it did recently. I was supposed to do a 16 mile run but I needed 16.5 to get to 40. An arbitrary number I know, but I like saying I did 40 so I made sure I ran that extra half mile. Silly me.
The next week I had my daughter Caitlin visiting. She is just starting her training for a half marathon so her mileage was 6 miles. I did the 6 with her in one of the half marathon groups. It was very, very humid but we finished fine. I still needed to do another 6 to get my 12 miles in, which I decided I would do at home so she wouldn’t have to wait around for me. We drove home after our 6, had breakfast with her, her friend Courtney and Linda, my wife. We hung out for almost 2 hours just talking and visiting. Then I decided to go run the rest of my miles.
NOTE TO SELF: cooling down for 2 hours is not a good idea. My legs were stiff and tight and they didn’t want to run. Not only that but it was now 10:15am and the temperature, humidity and sun had all risen. I had a miserable run and got back close to my house right around the 4 mile mark. Here’s where My 30 mile goal came in handy. I was supposed to run 6 more, but really only needed 4.5 more to get to 30 for the week. So 4.5 miles it was!
Caitlin and me after a hot, sweaty run!
I have been diligent about making sure I take my electrolyte tablets before the runs and that I have my gels and tablets with me. I am using the Huma gels pretty exclusively, with a random other brand tossed in to take once in a while. I am practicing taking my nutrition at every water stop or every 45 minutes on the long runs so when I am in my race it will be trained into me to take them at the right time.
Gels on marathon program shirt
That is it for now. If you would like to read the other marathon training posts, you can find them here.
See you running,