Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rocky Mountain Hurt

     Per usual, this is a very tardy blog entry. A lot has happened since I last wrote on here, but in other ways, not much has changed. The biggest change is that I made the decision to move to Denver, Colorado at the very end of May. I took a position working at a run specialty store, Runners Roost.
     Living in Colorado has been great (only four months in, but still). The weather is fantastic and the scenery is wonderful. I have not complained about the wind once since living here, something that seemed to be an everyday bother in Wichita. I have not gone west, into the mountains, as much as I would like to, but I have climbed five 14'ers and gone on a couple of fun trail runs, so that's something.
Running at Kenosha Pass at the end of September. My foot did not feel great, but the views made it worth it.

     The part that has not changed much since my last post is my running health. I was actually able to run consistently for the first two months I was out here, even four weeks at 80ish miles per week. But my foot was always a bother, and it has recently led me to shut down running for at least a week. No, it is not the same bullshit metatarsalgia that my right foot plagued me with for much of this year. That ailment is being held at bay. This time it's my left foot and it is, by all accounts, a bad case of plantar fasciitis. Before the 2014 Boston Marathon I had a very mild case that went away relatively quickly, but it has returned with a vengeance.
     I am very lucky to have access to great chiropractors at my job. For the past few months I have been seeing, Dr. Nicholas Studholme, and I believe in his philosophy and treatments. He has given me strengthening exercises and advice throughout the process.  We tried to keep me running while trying to heal, but this week I made the decision to stop running and see if that helps. I know it sounds silly to wait this long to stop running and let it heal, but the end goal is to run healthy, and I wanted to continue to run and heal at the same time.
     So, for now I am on the bike a lot (I really do love cycling, too) or just taking full rest days. Fortunately, there are no races or events that I am particularly interested in for the remainder of the calendar year. THE main goal is to be healthy and running at the end of December to roll right into a marathon training cycle for the 2017 Boston Marathon.
     2015 was a hell of a year for running and staying healthy. 2016 has been, by far, the most injury riddled year I have had, so far. It is all part of the journey. Cheers until next time, my friends!
I do love cycling and being back on the bike more. It's not like Colorado is a bad place to ride.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Not So Great Start To 2016

     This blog entry has been put off and set aside for months for one reason or another, but the main reason is because there has not been much to write that is positive. This year, 2016, has me off to a trying start. I know that makes me sound full of pessimism, and I try not to feel sorry for myself because I know my "problems" are nothing compared to what many people in this world face, but when something you love is taken away from you, however brief or long, it affects you.
     Actually, despite the opening paragraph, January was a pretty good month (confused yet?). Training was off to a good start. In the middle of the month I had an unplanned workout with, Raquel, that went really well and gave me confidence. (Raquel has had a tough start to the year, too, and I'll get into that briefly in a bit) A week later I ran a 5k PR. I was feeling strong, excited, and ready to work.
     During the last week of January, during an easy run, I felt a pebble between my toes. I stopped to empty out the rock from my shoe, but there was no pebble. Weird. I continued on and eventually the feeling went away. For the next week my right forefoot got progressively tender while running, not enough to not run, but enough to be noticeable and worrisome.
     Finally, after about ten days of this mysterious situation getting worse and worse, I made a doctors appointment. The doctor took an X-Ray, but the results showed no break. I was put on an antibiotic for ten days, and that's about it. The very next morning I laced up my shoes and went outside for a run. I took two steps, and my foot hurt terribly. I am so stubborn about my running, that I run through ailments and niggles when I probably should not, but I stopped after two steps and knew something was very wrong with my foot. I thought to myself, I was at the doctor yesterday and nothing showed up on the X-Ray and they did not tell me not to run, but now it is even worse?! Pissed off and frustrated, I did no running for the next 10-14 days, which seemed like an eternity at the time (it gets worse). Desperate to be active and not to lose fitness, I was able to cycle during this time away from running. Eventually, I tried running and it went OK. That lasted for eight days. I went back to the doctor and said something is not right. An MRI was scheduled to take a closer look. I had three different doctors trying to help me, and they kept crossing possible issues off the list, but they could not tell me exactly what was wrong. This was VERY frustrating. I oddly began to hope the MRI showed a minor stress fracture so there would at least be an obvious problem. The MRI came back showing nothing but some fluid in a tendon. Great, so what does that mean?
     I was told I had metatarsalgia, which if you look it up and read the symptoms it is exactly what I was experiencing. So, am I wearing a boot, are we doing surgery, what is the treatment, Doc? I was put on another antibiotic and told to take two more weeks off of running. Seriously? That was basically what they had me do last time, but I said OK and followed orders.
     On February 13, the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials took place in sunny Los Angeles. Raquel, my boss and co-owner at First Gear Running Company, was there for her second Olympic Trials! Unfortunately, she did not arrive in ideal shape. After the aforementioned workout we had in January (maybe even before), she was experiencing issues with her foot as well. Eventually, she was in a position of no running and had to cross train in the pool or on the ElliptiGO. The crazy thing is, four years ago, before the last Trials in Houston, she had injured her foot badly before that race as well. Talk about bad luck!
     She decided to go to Los Angeles and try and make it through the race (how could you not try when it is the Olympic Trials?!). She put forth a courageous, inspiring effort, but around the halfway point her foot was in bad shape and she had to make the decision of stopping and not risking long term damage. Luckily, friends and family were there to support her, including her two daughters. The next time I saw Raquel she was in a boot and had officially been diagnosed with a stress fracture. She was in repair for as long as I was, and, thankfully, is slowly starting to get back to running. The reason I bring this up is to give an example of how my feeling depressed and frustrated at my own situation is humbled when you are aware of others' problems. Yeah, I could not run, and the Boston Marathon means a great deal to me, but I was not going to the Olympic Trials, you know? Also, this is all information Raquel has shared with people, so I am not revealing top secret inside information here. 
     From February 28 through April 7, I did run at all. 38 days. Even cycling became a bit uncomfortable, so that stopped as well. I tried going to the YMCA to swim and lift weights, but I hate being inside a gym. So, during the most important time of training for the Boston Marathon I did not run at all. When the calendar turned to April and I was obviously out of shape, 20 pounds heavier than I was two months ago, I started to accept the fact that I was likely not going to run in Boston, let alone run well.
    For the sake of making this next part extremely brief, I ran for 11 days before running the 2016 Boston Marathon. I could not get a refund on my plane ticket, so I was going to go to Boston regardless. I was able to run to some extent, a race bib was in my possession, the city was buzzing, it is the Boston Marathon, I mean come on.... how could I not participate?! I just wanted to finish. I had no time goal, no pace to shoot for, I just hoped my body and foot would carry me 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. Luckily, I finished, and that is more than I could have asked for. My finishing time was three hours and 15 minutes, 32 minutes slower than my PR, but I did not care. I had finished my third Boston, and I made the right choice. My foot held up and it was a fun time (except for the sizzling sunburn I received!).
     As I write this, it has been 12 days since the marathon, and I tried to run for 30 minutes on the track last Wednesday. My thought process was, yeah, I ran a marathon, but I took more than a month off and my body did not take the beating during training that it typically does, so I should be able to slowly return to running. What I have found to be the biggest difference between being fit and in shape for a marathon, or, what I did, being out of shape and substantially heavier than ideal, is not the actual race, but the recovery. My legs are still beat up and sore, more so than previous marathons, so I am still not running. Also, my foot is definitely better, but not 100%.
     Now, looking back on this entire journey still frustrates me very much, but I can definitely take a positive position on several things. Mostly, my body has got a big time rest from the high mileage I have been putting in for the past several years.
     Right now I am just trying to let me body recover and continue to heal from Boston, and get back to being healthy. That is all I want, really. To just be able to run without pain and injury.
     I quote the "Once A Runner" passage all the time, "the trial of miles; miles of trials." This is definitely a "trials" time, but if you run long enough this stuff happens. It is part of the game.


P.S. - This blog is obviously focused and dedicated to running. I am very much aware that the things I refer to as "problems" and "issues" on this blog pale in comparison to hardships and tough situations people face everyday that have nothing to do with running, but literally surviving and trying to make it through the day.

One of the coolest, greatest things that I have got to experience this year is who I got to meet at the Boston Marathon expo. I met several elite athletes, including U.S. Olympians Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Linden (Davila), but THE best part was meeting Meb Keflezighi! He is my runing hero and inspiration, so that was great!

Sunday, October 18, 2015


With about a mile left in the race, Conner (orange hat) and I caught the leading female, Madeline Glass, and ran in with her. Glass won the race in a time of 2:59:11.
     Last Sunday I paced a three hour marathon group for the Prairie Fire Marathon. Although I have been running quite a bit I did not feel ready to "race," but I wanted to do something so I asked a member of the race staff a couple of weeks ago if I could lead a three hour pace group. The fastest group they typically put together is a 3:10 group, but I talked them into 3:00. I felt confident in my ability to run a three hour marathon, and I felt like there would be some people with that time as their goal.
     What usually happens with the full marathon pacers (from what I have seen), is one pacer will start the race and run the first 13.1-miles, halfway. At that point, another pacer will take over and run the second half. I really wanted to run the whole thing, but I have learned to respect the distance of the marathon and knew anything could happen even if my confidence was high in regards to running 26.2-miles in three hours. I asked, Conner Drendel, a fellow runner that I have known for a couple of years through my job at First Gear Running Company if he would like to pace with me. Conner is a hell of runner himself, having ran at Southwestern College. We are also both teachers. I knew he could comfortably run the pace that would be needed for this "job." Luckily, Conner agreed to jump in at the halfway point and pace with me. I still had the plan to run all 26.2, but with Conner on board I was more comfortable because I knew I really only had to make it halfway, and if something went wrong he would be there to take over.
     My plan was to run an even pace throughout the whole race, 6:50 per mile. For the first five or so miles, I ran with the 1:30 half-marathon pacers. Between their group and mine, there were roughly 15 runners that we were pacing. About a mile into the race I asked how many people were wanting to run 3:00 for the marathon. There were 6-10 runners that stated that was their goal.
     Before the race I took a Sharpie and wrote the splits I would need to hit for the five, 10, 13.1, 15, 20 and 25 mile marks on my arm. At the five mile mark, we were roughly 20 seconds faster than 3:00 pace. By the time we reached eight miles there was just one runner that was still with me. Everyone else had dropped off. The lone remaining runner was a guy named, Jeff, a triathlete first, but had ran a 3:03 marathon and wanted to crack 3:00. I told him if he just hung with me I would get him there.
Checking the splits I had written on my arm to see if we were on pace at the five mile mark. I had the group about 20 seconds under 3:00 pace at this point.

     Just before the halfway point, Conner jumped in with Jeff, and I and the three of us started the second half of our journey. Jeff was looking good and we were trying to encourage him and keep him motivated. I had to make a bathroom stop just after the 14 mile mark (I was definitely thankful Conner was pacing with me at that point), and it took me three miles to catch back up to Conner. My pace had to pick up to catch back up, so miles 16 (6:08), 17 (6:10), and 18 (6:16) were faster than the 6:50 pace I had planned on running all day. By the time I caught back up with Conner, Jeff was gone (after we finished I found out he started cramping and dropped out around 17 miles).
     At this point Conner and I were all alone on the course. We could not see anyone behind us nor in front of us. We continued to hold the 3:00 pace, but for the next six to eight miles we had no one to pace.
20ish miles into the race and we had no one around to pace.

     With about four miles to go my hamstrings started to tighten ever so slightly, letting me know they were on the verge of cramping. At this point I just wanted to finish. With about a mile left in the race, we caught the leading female runner, Madeline Glass. She looked to be hurting (rightfully so!) but looked strong enough to get to the finish without slowing down. The final few miles had a slight headwind (any headwind can be debilitating that late into a marathon), so I got in front of Madeline and told her to draft off of me. There was still no other runners around that Conner and I could pace, so we decided to help Madeline get to the finish. This was a really, really cool way to end the race and my first pacing experience. Madeline crossed the finish line and won the race in 2:59:11. Conner and I crossed the line in 2:59:10, 50 seconds faster than our pace group, but we sped up when we ran Madeline in.
     Overall, it was a fun day. I started thinking how two years ago I trained my butt off trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon and ran a (then) PR of 2:58. Now I am pacing a three hour marathon and feeling relatively comfortable running that pace. It goes to show that improvement takes time, but if you put in the work and effort, you might be surprised at what you can do.
     As always, thank you for taking some time to read my blog!

Sunday, October 11, 2015


     Creating a new blog seemed appropriate. The blog I have been using, 185 Minutes, has served its purpose and the goal for that online journal has been achieved. So, this is the new site I will be using to post updates on training and racing. When I run I like to wear the shortest I hope to post more frequently than I did on "185 Minutes," and write about not only training and racing, but shoe/apparel/nutrition reviews. I would also like to post some videos/vlogs to add a different medium to the site.
     My first post of substance should be written within a couple of days. I plan to talk about what my training has been like the last several weeks/months, and my first pacing experience today. Stay tuned for that post and all future installments!
     Thank you for taking a minute to check out my new blog!