April 24, 2005

very VERY upset

I am extremely upset. I was supposed to run this morning; I was supposed to be in the 4m race in Central Park. But I didn't!

My left foot had been feeling better yesterday, but this morning, the pain was right back up there and even walking to the subway I had a bad feeling. Making the transfer from the R train to the 2 train got me thinking. I very much wanted to go participate in the run; I WANT TO BE BACK ON TRACK! But a little insistent voice kept reminding me that a) I don't really know what this pain is and that it's not good that it hasn't gone away, b) running on it could make it worse and TRULY condemn my chances at the marathon next weekend, and c) discretion is often the better part of valour.

But part of me is just in outright panick. Is my training slipping away? Will I be healed enough to tackle even the half-marathon next weekend? I don't know what's going on and I don't know what to do. I can't figure out why my foot isn't healing!

So I took the R train home and am feeling very unhappy and miserable. My plan is twofold: a) go to rehearsal today and concentrate on that and then go party tonight for Second Night Seder and just...clear my head of running for 24 hours; and b) Monday morning get on the phone with a couple of foot doctors and get the first appointment I can and AT LEAST get their professional opinion on whether next weekend is doable. If they can give me painkillers that will let me do that marathon, then I would do that. After all, my next for-sure marathon isn't until November 2006! And I only have to get in four more qualifiers before the end of this year....which means, in short, that after May 1, I can take a couple of MONTHS off of running (and instead rollerblade and bicycle) to let injuries fully heal.

I'm just so fucking agitated about this setback. I'm worried that this is the second race I've dropped out of and that next weekend I'll fail to live up to my committment to my family. :(

April 21, 2005

worried about tomorrow

Did some pedaling around Brooklyn yesterday, mostly the lower portion of the Slope and two laps of the Park. To my credit, I did not stop during those two laps, except at the top of the park to get some Gatorade from a vendor. How stupid was it to leave the house with no fluid on an 88 degree day?? Anyway, that was the first time I'd pedaled up the major hill without stopping. And I did it both times.

Part of that is a certain mental toughness I'm getting from the running, particularly the long runs. Bob Glover describes it in his book as the warrior attitude. It is that attitude that makes us push through non-crippling pain and keeps us from eating/drinking/doing the things we shouldn't between runs. Its definitely seeping into my bones.

But I'm still worried about May 1st. Tomorrow I'm going to do three to five loops of the Park on the bicycle, instead of running, just like yesterday. This is in an effort to spare my feet and ankles for Sunday's "long" run (8 miles), which I cannot skip. Then I think I can safely go back to bicycling/rollerblading until the marathon. But will my feet heel up in time? Everything that has become sore over the last six months is still sore, though mostly to a minor, disallowable extent. But one or two of them really have me worried about not being able to finish the marathon. And then I'll go see a doctor and he'll look at me like I'm stupid and say, why didn't you come see me when this first started? I could have helped you and you would have been able to finish the marathon.

So that's my fear right now; and its strong. But the training is, for the most part, done; and I have to believe that stretching, some ibuprofen, and twice-daily icing will do the trick for these pains and by marathon day, I'll be ready to kick some ass.

April 19, 2005

update on pain

I spent most of yesterday in pain and was afraid I'd spend much of today in pain, too. Not the case. I'm deliberately taking it easy on my feet, but even so, I walked a distance tonight that should have had me limping. So maybe this new injury is temporary. I'm not taking any chances and tomorrow will do my workout on the bicycle, not running.

In the meantime, I've purchased new gel insoles, much like I had when I started running. I think changing back to the thin, non-cushioning insoles that came with the shoes was a mistake. Only time will tell.

Son of a bitch.

Three miles. that's all I had to do today was three lousy simple miles. Feet felt fine all day, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, I don't know, but they did! Got to about two miles and had to stop. The pain had started up in a way that said, "STOP NOW!"

And still, eight hours later, the outside bottom of my left foot is in such pain I can barely walk on it. I am not happy about this. How can I do 18 miles one day, and then get injured in two miles just a couple days later??

Son of a bitch.

April 16, 2005

last long run before Marathon

18 miles! 18 miles!!

I'm sitting here with ice packs on my left shin, left knee, and right ankle contemplating the success level of this run. Part of me can't quite believe I actually finished 18 miles, much less did it in, apparently, a mere 3 hours 30 minutes. For the amount of pain I'm in -- and was in most of the time -- it seems unlikely that I did this run without walking, yet that's what happened.

I mixed up the last of my HEED and filled all my fuel-belt bottles, in addition to two quart-size jugs. I also filled two gel flasks with a mix of orange, vanilla, and plain Hammer Gel, which I simply think of as tolerable-tasting miracle goop. I did a brief warm-up run, visited the bathroom, and spent several minutes stretching. I'd done my therapy already and had Spiriva, too, so I wasn't too worried about my lungs. I was most concerned about my left tibial shin splint, which has not gone away, though it's less severe than before. Today it was aching before the run and I didn't take ibuprofen until I was leaving. So, basically, I was in some pain there the entire time.

I left one jug of HEED at the house and carried the other with me up to the park, at a run. THAT was a workout! I was carrying eight pounds of fluid and fuel and that makes a difference. I got up to the park and right off found a great place to stash the quart of HEED and one of the goop flasks: a hollow in a tree about six feet up where a branch had broken out long ago. I took off on the counter-clockwise loop.

This run didn't have a lot of highs and lows. It was one long long long steady challenge. My injury continually hurt, though the ibuprofen helped some and avoiding sudden twists and turns also helped. Towards about the time I completed three laps and realized I had "only" seven miles to go, my ankles started to add their voice to the protest and by the last lap, my knees were contributing some harmony into the composition as well.

This affected me mentally, but not much. I made the decision to run 18 miles; I knew my route, I did not vary from it, and no way in hell was a little pain going to stop me. Mentally, I was prepared for this run and potentially even more. And I'm glad, because it's going to take a similar attitude to make it through the marathon, I think.

The weather was spot-on perfect for a long run. Clear and cool, with a light breeze. I only walked twice on this run and neither time for any more than 50 yards. The first time was when some sudden twinges in the fourth lap sprang up. THAT will make me slow down!! The second time was when exiting the park, after I'd grabbed the now 2/3-full jug of HEED and was guzzling about half that down before tossing the jug into a trash can. Then I picked it up and ran most of the way down the hill to home.

I fueled and hydrated on a planned schedule throughout the run; taking hits of goop at least twice per lap and drinking at least four times per lap, with the goal to use up my belt bottles before I left the park, supplemented by long pulls on the quart-jug as I passed the tree. (I only did that once, actually, as I stopped to change directions and stretch.) As I emptied the little bottles, I tossed them. (I'd been noticing a build-up of some black growth in the bottles and caps that I couldn't clean out. I'll get some new ones and be more careful about washing them immediately after a run.) Due to this careful fueling and hydration, my energy level stayed constant the whole run, if not fantastically high. But I never hit any real lows; though I did notice that my coughing fits took more and more out of me.

Oddly enough, at 16.5 miles, most of my pain went away. This scared me, as perhaps this is the fabled special-endorphins release that makes death a less terrible experience. Ah, but no such sweet release was to come to me.

I had decided to run down to fifth avenue and walk the final block down to my house, as a way of cooling down before stretching. Halfway down, this run's reward presented itself: sitting on the sidewalk was an old Coleman gas grill, which I'd noticed on the way up and had thought it was a little early to set out for trash. Now it had big signs taped to it: "Works fine; just needs new hoses." Huh. Well, hell, why not? I thought. So I wheeled the thing home. I figure I'll give it a good cleaning and inspection and order the new hoses and get a propane tank and try it out. The worst that happens is I'm out the money of some hoses. Best case, I've got myself a grill that's a lot more pleasant to cook on than the charcoal grill I've already got. Maybe now I'll start doing some more barbecue, which I love, but just hate dealing with the charcoal and ashes all the time.

I'm considering a nap, then a shower and going to see a movie this evening. There's no way in hell I'm going to Central Park at 8 a.m. for a race tomorrow, though maybe I'll go to pick up the t-shirt and cheer the rest of the pack on.

April 14, 2005

fresh start; 5 miles; 8 miles

I did 8 miles today. Actually, 8.75 according to the GPS and probably 9, truthfully. I ran from NYU across to the West Side Highway, up the running path all the way to the 79th street Boat Basin, then down again. Missed the turn at 14th street, cut across on Barrow, or something, got lost, ended up at 6th and Houston and finally got back up to NYU. EXCELLENT RUN!!!

This was truly one of the best runs I've had in some time. While my ankles did twinge a bit, and my front left ligament is griping, nothing is too painful right now, nor during the run. In addition, I finally tested out the Hammer Gel and HEED and was really quite pleased with the result of constant fueling with their products. Only one time did I begin to feel tired, after running into a headwind for 15 minutes, but that soon passed and I was actually able to pick up speed for the last obstacle-dodging mile.

Some things I see on my run: a man in shirt and tie, running pants, carrying a portfolio, jogging up the running path, making better time than me; a rastafarian on an extremely modified bicycle. His position was akin to playing a piano with the keyboard at chin level...his seat was at least 3 feet up, the handlebars at 5 feet or better. Bizarre. Also: boats, lots of them; fighter planes as I passed the Intrepid; a parks department car on the running path; a cop pulling over a sedan that ran a red light; a way way sexy silver convertible, like something out of a teenager's wetdream; a helicopter marked "Forbes Capitalist Tool"; a woman sunbathing topless, and nobody seemed to notice and/or care. What a neat run!

Weather was absolutely perfect running weather; legs felt good; lungs felt good. Good energy.

Back up two days: got out on the road and did my regular five mile loop for the first run in five days. Been nursing that left ligament thing. Finally it felt good enough to abuse again and I had to get out there. Not a bad run, but five miles was certainly the limit for that day!

Missed my "last" long run this past weekend, due to the injury. Will try to make it up Saturday in Prospect Park. 18 miles seems shorter there than elsewhere. I still plan to go race Sunday, though "race" isn't technically correct. Just...take it easy for four miles or something. Get a t-shirt, if nothing else. ;)

April 7, 2005

Dealing with shin splints

Just got back to NYU from an 8 mile run. I ran out to West Side Highway, then up the runners' path to the middle of Trump's condo towers on the West Side, where the path is then underneath the beginning of the Hudson River Parkway, then came back downtown. I cut down through the village via West 4th street, which beginnins by intersection West 14th, then West 12th, etc. Odd way to have a street. This is the first time I've seen the whole thing and it has some nice little tucked away blocks.

I took HEED with me, though not enough. I'd gulped my 20 ounces before my turnaround point and wish I'd brought a full fuel belt. However, the two Hammer gels and the 20 ounces of HEED really did their stuff and I never tired the whole run, even though it was 70+ degrees and on the way back, I was running into a headwind.

I actually appreciated the headwind; it helped keep me cool, though it slowed me down some. By the time I got into the more-protected West 4th street, I was going at a pretty good clip.

I don't think my stride-lengthening run downhill two days ago was so smart. It felt good at the time, but I may have damaged my whatnot over my left tibia. Yesterday and today, I've been dealing with shin splints. I thought this morning that the pain might be gone because I didn't have any twinges (shins, ankles, anywhere) coming downstairs. But the first mile of today's run really had me worried because the pain was coming back pretty strong. I decided to run through it, knowing at which point I would voluntarily cut the run short, painwise. But I never reached that point as the pain localized itself and settled down to a dull roar.

After my run, I grabbed a Gatorade and ice pack from a Duane Reade then took a good twenty minutes to stretch. Then the cold pack. I'm feeling pretty good right now, but will have to investigage the possibility of bringing a towel and taking a quick shower here, if I continue to squeeze runs in while in tech.

April 6, 2005

Best/worst 5

Yesterday, I left NYU, where I'm working on a show, and went home for a run. I'd intended to just run 10 laps of Washington Square Park, but it turns out I'd forgotten my shoes and fuel belt. Probably a good thing; as the WSP was packed and it would not have been the quality run I was after.

Got out and did my usual 5-mile loop up to Prospect Park, around, and back. During the first 20 steps, I was thinking, "This is gonna suck!" During the first mile, I was worried that, even in just running pants and one t-shirt, I was already overdressed. It was 60 degrees out and I really felt it! The whole run was spent battling the heat. I'm sure I'll get used to it over time, but yesterday it hit me with a wallop. I had to run a little slower and had used up both of my hydration bottles in the first three miles. And, unfortunately, I'd chosen the "easy" direction and wound up running up the completely un-shaded south hill late in the run.

Once out of the park, I changed direction and ran over to ninth street and down to the grocery store. During the run downhill, I consciously used it as a chance to stretch my stride just a little bit, for a block or two. At one point, I was trying to dodge a group of little bastards kids and wound up ploughing full-on into one who simply was too wrapped up in himself to give a damn about anybody else trying to use the 8-foot-wide sidewalk. He was chasing some little thing around on the concrete and he turned into my path even as I tried to avoid him. It wasn't bad -- but maybe he'll watch out a little better for the next couple of days? (I'm almost sorry I didn't nail him in the head with my knee.)

I felt good stretching outside the store and then grocery shopping, tipping boxes and bags of my regular foods into my basket, then letting a little old guy with two cartons of ice cream slip into line ahead of me.

In some ways, this was a very bad run. The heat has me worried. I have less than a month to adapt to these temperatures, even though I tend to overdress when its cooler because I know I'll be racing when its warmer. I'd like to be out right now doing 8 miles (It's 71 degrees!), but my feet aren't allowing it. After three days of being on my feet as an electrician, my feet have had it. It didn't help I had to walk part of the way home, when some stupid bitch pulled the emergency cord and the whole F line came to a screeching halt. After 45 minutes, I didn't feel I could wait any longer. I had the pleasure of watching the cops chewing out this lady, who had apparently pulled the cord in order to get the police to complain about somebody.

Anyway...feet: I need to stay off them the rest of today, if possible. I've got ice on them now. This also has me worried. If my feet can't handle this little I'm asking of them, then I'm gonna cripple myself finishing the Flying Pig.

The weather is supposed to stay warm, and even if I have to run in the rain this week, it will be a pleasure. I'll have to put off my long run (my last before the taper) 'til Monday, due to focus and tech, but that doesn't worry me. I'll have literally ALL DAY Monday to run my 18 and they're predicting 55 and sunny. Also, I just got the Hammer products I ordered, so I look forward to trying them out and using a quantity of them to avoid the late-run fatigue I felt last time.

April 3, 2005

Shortened run = Personal Best?

Ran the Scotland Run 10K today in Central Park. This was NOT easy; it was probably the hardest race I've run so far.

I got up at 5 a.m., with my body telling me it was only 4 a.m. and that it had not rested enough (we Sprang Forward last night) and I rather mechanically went through my morning breakfast and therapy routine. By the time I left the house at about 6:15, the dawn had just gotten started and the rain had temporarily stopped. (We're in the middle of a pattern of gully-washers.) Though rain was expected off and on all day, I could actually see blue sky way off to the east.

Got to Central Park at 7:15 and was pleased to find that they already had the baggage area corralled in with someone watching the bags. I dropped off my stuff (all protected inside my regular bag by a plastic bag) and went out for an easy-paced lap of the park. Got a good 6.1 or 6.2 miles in and still had time to cool down a bit too much before the race began. I discovered a couple miles out in that warm-up lap that not only were my lungs still pretty closed up from asthma (and the humidity complicating it), but they weren't going to get any more cooperative today, either: my inhaler was cashed. How come I only discover this on important training days??

Before the race, I was joking with some other people lining up in the "10" section (10-minute milers or longer) about the course record that had been announced on the loudspeakers. I suggested we all "double that" and aim to come in under the bigger number. It got a lot of laughs because its true!

Not too long into the run, perhaps 3/4 mile, I came up slowly on a couple of older gentlemen managing to have a conversation as they ran. (Not as easy a conversation as that woman who wouldn't shut up in the last CP race, but still...a conversation.) I noted they were talking about the Prius some guy modified that gets something like 100-bajillion miles per gallon. We got to talking (them talking, me gasping out short responses, really) and they introduced themselves as Jeff Ostermann and Bruce Kaufmann. Jeff suffers from chronic calf problems and takes his coaching mostly from Bruce, who seems very experienced. I got the impression from Jeff that Bruce could have been running eight minute miles if he had wished, but that they were a team, running at Jeff's pace. I ran with them the rest of the way.

While Bruce occasionally called out for us to slow our pace in a wise pace-yourselves way when we got going too fast, we all chatted and generally enjoyed the flowers popping up and the fine young things passing us by (and occasionally getting passed by us!) The weather had been getting crappier this whole time. It had begun to rain pretty well on my warm-up lap and only slacked off a bit at the start of the race. By mile 4, it was raining respectably, the winds were getting stronger, and the temperature was dropping. We guessed we finished the race with about 36 degrees temperature, opposed tot he 45 degrees we began it under.

Having Bruce and Jeff as running comrades was really something. Simply by being there, they kept me going through portions of the race I would no doubt have walked, since I was battling my lungs tremendously, especially during the last three miles. But we ran the entire way, usually at a good pace and we crossed the finish line together. This was the first time in my training that I didn't feel alone.

Speaking of crossing the finish line, with the sole exception of the 15K race a few months back (and I maintain something about the clocking on that one is wrong); this race sets my Personal Best for pace. I have Bruce to thank for that, I think. It's also nice, now that I know I can jog through even the asthma. Next time, I bring a new inhaler!

My place-time is here:

Oh, I did see Bells Man, James Lu again and asked him how he did -- he came in 900 people ahead of me, getting it done in under an hour! Fantastic! He really had his game on today!

Hydration and fuel: I purchased some power gels, but only ate one - about half an hour before the race - along with some drink in a shiny silver box-can (I forget the name). The drink nutritional information was chock full of vitamins and had zero sugars -- just proteins and complex carbs. Pretty good for long energy, I figured. It tasted hideous. Too fruity, too sweet (artificially sweetened). Excellent pre-race drink; I will have to pick up more. For along-the-way hydration, I picked up a pack of Gu20 -- that company's answer to Gatorade, I guess -- and it too doesn't use simple sugars, just good electrolytes, proteins, complex carbs, and - best of all - a very light touch with the orange flavor. Two thumbs up.

So. After 12 miles and change, and with the weather continuing to be crappy and me getting wetter and colder even as I ran, I decided to call it a day, six miles short of my training schedule. I don't think it'll hurt me in the long run, and my slowly-healing calf will probably appreciate it. That said -- dammit!

Legs held up pretty good the whole time. Stretched on the train ride home; will stretch before bed tonight. Got home, took a hot hot shower, then zonked out for an hour and a half; had weird dreams.

April 1, 2005

Running through a movie set

OK, real quick entry, as I let my hair dry before leaving for rehearsal.

Yesterday's run was supposed to be 8 miles, but as I was trying to squeeze it in between rehearsals, I chose Washington Square Park laps. I cut the run short at 5 miles because I was getting very fatigued dodging people -- most of the unaware pedestrians happen to be on cell phones. Yet another reason to hate the goddamn devices!

So today, in place of the scheduled five miles, I went out for eight on my regular route. I was going to do five, considering I'm still pressed for time, but just as I was beginning mile four, I saw another runner had left his sweatshirt and a Gatorade on a railing post on one of the little bridges where there's a pedestrian underpass to the center of the park. I thought that seemed safe enough, so I ditched my hoodie and second bottle of Gatorade and went for another lap - 3 miles. Picked up my sweatshirt and bottle on the second pass and ran down on home. Temperature 53 degrees, humidity 90+%. I could see my breath as I ran! My lungs were not happy.

Found myself for about three miles chasing an older guy ahead of me about 50 yards. Finally, finally caught him on the big hill. He sped up, I think trying to lose me, but quickly slowed to a walk. I just chugged along up the hill and felt very proud that I can do this!

The eeriness of today's run cannot be adequately described. Besides the creepiness of seeing ones breath at 53 degrees, it is a perfectly overcast day, threatening to rain (indeed, we're to receive three to five inches tomorrow) and hence, no shadows. While crocuses are struggling to peak up out of the earth, the rest of the park is shades of brown and grey. It was like running through a space that is comforting, yet malicious; known, yet with an undercurrent of something wrong -- kind of like Bambi as directed by M. Knight Shyamalan.

Finally ordered the Hammer gel and HEED that Derek had recommended. When it comes, we'll see how it is.

Scottish 10K run in Central Park Sunday as part of my 18 miler. Hope to get there early enough to get in six miles before the race so that I only have six miles to finish AFTER the race! Pain still plagues me -- my calf feels like its been beaten with a meat tenderizer