"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Having grown up in Oregon, I don't give the weather forecast any serious credibility until a few days out, as it always seems to change. Still though, I was none to pleased to see this come up for Newport on race day, now 12 days away. Looks...Oregonish.

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RainHi 51°RealFeel® 44°


  • SW at 19 mph  Gusts: 48mph

Max UV Index: 4 (moderate)
  • Thunderstorm Probability: 0%
  • Amount of Precipitation: 0.52 in
  • Amount of Rain: 0.52 in
  • Amount of Snow: 0.0 in
  • Amount of Ice: 0.00 in
  • Hours of Precipitation: 7  hrs
  • Hours of Rain: 7 hrs

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Perhaps it's different for others, but for me there is nothing enjoyable or pleasant about a 20 mile training run. It's no fun in the beginning, knowing you're in for a long haul. Its no fun with when you get to mile 10 and realize you're only halfway done. And there certainly is no joy at the end, when everything hurts. That's not to confuse joy with satisfaction. For while there is no fun in a 20 miler, there is an immense amount of satisfaction, knowing that you have persevered through a necessary evil on your way to running a marathon. I won't rehash all of the reasons why a 20 mile training run is more difficult than a marathon, you can read them HERE, but it is in my mind.

That said, as of this morning I'm done with them for a while. I looked back yesterday and calculated that today's run was my 12th training run of 20 miles or more (plus the four marathons) and they don't get any easier. I've put in three 20 milers in the last five weeks, including two in back to back weeks, to get ready for my three marathons in 30 days. And while they are a necessary evil, there's a pattern that has emerged that I will take with me into race day. It is this: I have consistently been in the 2:55-2:58 range on all three of these recent runs. Which means to me that if I can run the first 20 miles of the marathon at 9 minutes/mile or better, that I can run/walk the last 6.2 at 10 minutes/mile or better and meet my goal of 4 hours.

That's comforting to me because I feel like it gives me a cushion in the final 6.2 miles. I feel confident that even if I walk the first 1/10 of the mile that I should still be able to finish the mile in under 10 minutes. I'll have the next three weeks to think about this strategy in greater detail, but for now the work is done. A couple of intense but shorter mileage weeks ahead and then I'm on the doorstep of Marathon #5.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pace teams. Love 'em or hate 'em? In my one and only experience with them I give them an incomplete. I ran with a pace team in Seattle last year, three weeks after a somewhat disastrous (at the time) showing in Newport. I felt like my best chance to reach my goal in marathon #2 was to avoid at all costs a big problem I had in marathon #1. Namely, running mile after mile by myself. Granted, there were 27,000 more people running in Seattle (at least for the first half), but I felt like if I had someone I could stick with who knew what they were doing that this would give me the best chance for success.
I decided to start with the 3:45 pace leader. There was a group of about 12 of us (though there were probably many more keeping any eye on our leader and adjusting their pace accordingly). I held the pace fairly well for the first 10 miles but miles 11-13 I struggled to keep up. I began to drop back just after the halfway mark and once again was running more or less by myself.
Mentally, it's one thing to see your pace leader increasing the distance between the two of you knowing you'll probably not be able to catch up. It's quite another to be passed by the pace leader of the group behind you, especially when you know they started 2-3 minutes behind you in the corrals. Thus was my experience around mile 20. There went the 4:00 group, not flying past me by any means, but definitely moving faster than I was.
I pulled myself together and finished in 4:07 but I have since questioned whether or not a pace team helps me or hurts me. Newport won't have any pace teams, it's just not a big enough race (900 runners, marathon only), but Seattle will. And so I have a decision to make. Do I or don't I? And if I choose to do so, and my goal is 4:00, do I start with the 4:00 group and trust that I won't let them get away, or do I start with the 3:45 group and give myself a cushion (or who knows, maybe if I'm feeling great I stick with them the entire race), telling myself that whatever happens, I will not let the 4:00 group pass me?
Pace teams: helpful to you or not?

In other news, I'll be spending the first weekend in October here. I'm in!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Two weeks ago I hurt myself.
One week ago I knew it was getting serious when I could no longer walk, sit or stand without immense pain.
Five days ago I sat in a surgeon's office waiting for her to lower the boom on the bad news I knew was coming.
Four days ago I was stretched out on my couch in constant pain, wondering if it would ever subside and how long it would be until I would run again.
Three days ago I substitute-taught an 11-year old Sunday School class at church. The topic? Miracles. Towards the latter end of class I was asked, "do miracles happen today?" I answered in the affirmative, as I have experienced and been a part of numerous events in my life that can only be classified as such (case in point: I'm alive after an unfortunate encounter with the wheels of a moving car at age 18 months). Then I spent the rest of the day in bed, still in too much pain to move around the house.
One day ago I ran for the first time in a week, not knowing how I'd feel during or after. I finished seven mostly low-pain miles but was still a little nervous about the next morning.
Today I woke up pain free. There's still a tender muscle or two in my lower abdomen and groin area, but the pain is gone.
Miracle? I say yes.
Back to training. I've got work to do. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'm a runner. I'm going to run.

There's a fine line on when to return to running after an injury. More specifically, there's a fine line on how much pain you should run through before it's just plain stupid, doing more harm than good. Come back too soon and you may find yourself sitting on the couch for an even longer period of time. On the other hand, a first run back is never going to be the most pleasant experience.

I wasn't sure what to expect today when I set out for the first time in a week. I've felt slightly better the last two days, but certainly there's still a swelling issue. Oh, and the pulled muscle. That's still there too. But Newport is just a little more than 30 days away and so for my own sake, I had to see where I stood. I thought back to my conversation with the surgeon on Friday where I was told in no uncertain terms that I probably shouldn't plan on running in Newport (I "forgot" to tell her about Seattle and Sauvie Island three and four weeks later, respectively). And this was after being told I didn't have a hernia. She said it with a slight chuckle and suggested maybe I look at running Portland in October, perhaps trying to make me feel better. I don't think she meant any ill will by her comments, she just didn't understand: I'm a runner. I'm going to run. (See: Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans: "I'm a winner. I'm going to win.")

So off I went, not knowing if I would make it to the end of the block or not. Mile 1 was rough to say the least, but tolerable. Nothing felt like it was getting worse so I continued on. After a few miles I was running comfortably at an 8:20 pace and feeling pretty good about myself. I faded a bit in the final two miles to an 8:45 pace, but was still able to finish the seven miles in just under an hour.

I'll be doing a good amount of icing tonight and then I'll see how I feel in the morning, but if everything checks out, I should be on my way to at least making the starting line in Newport. What sort of condition I'll be in when I get there is still up in the air. Still, it was nice to be running again.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Feeling better these days is a matter of degrees, and I do feel a few degrees better today. I slept about 10 hours Saturday night and then was out cold for more than three hours on Sunday afternoon, much more sleep than I usually get, but maybe that's just my body trying to repair itself. I plan to go for a run tomorrow afternoon. How far I'll go I have no idea. I may not make it to the end of the street. I'll take a good long warm up walk (I feel much better once I get moving) and then start out VERY slow to make sure I'm not doing any more damage to anything. The clock is ticking though. 34 days to Newport and I'm determined to be at the starting line as prepared as I can be. Serving as extra motivation is the fact that a running couple I go to church with ran their 2nd marathon yesterday and both finished at 4 hours (3:57 and 4:00:41 respectively), after finishing their first marathon six months ago in 4 1/2 hours. I am totally thrilled by their accomplishment, but now I need to do the same.