Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weekly Log 21-Apr to 27-Apr-2014: Recovery Week #1

It's a new week!  My surgery and various ailments are in the rear-view mirror
now, and I'm marching on towards recovery.  Every day is getting better and better.
Monday:  0

Tuesday:  Walk 1.5.
Met with the surgeon today for my follow-up.  He cleared me for returning to light activities immediately with a 4-week post-surgery window of ramping up to full activities, which would mean by mid-May I should be ready for speedwork, followed by a return to racing!  He suggested I start out with a brisk walk first, then the next day trying 5 minutes of light jogging at a time, and gradually ramp up, saying I'll know it if I'm pushing too hard and should back down.

So that's what I did.  Short drive from SC Hospital to Black Point, parked the car, and went for what I felt was a brisk walk, but in reality was a pace somewhere around 17 minutes/mile.  Felt great to be out there on the trails along the ocean.

Wednesday:  Run/walk 2
Surgery + 7 days:  first day with no bandages and first day completely off meds!  Tried my first 5-minute slow jog.  Local roads, at about a 11 minute pace.  Felt odd and uncomfortable, but no pain either.  Continued with a 5-minute walk, and then repeated twice.

Thursday:  Walk 3
Met up at Camp Watchaug with two YMCA employees that are putting on Back Road Ramble on June 1st.  I give them kudos for looking for a runner's perspective, and they've asked me to be on the race committee.  We walked and wheel-measured the existing course, and it came up long on both GPS and wheel measurement, so we'll be looking for a change.  They are interested in a start closer to the waterfront as well, so that will necessitate some course changes in itself, but should also mitigate the current bottleneck at the start as well as having a consistent place for registration, start, finish, and awards.  If we can reduce some tarmac in the process as well, that would be great, but let's see.  Ultimately the course will be YMCA decision, but I told them I'd get back to them with some proposals and they seem genuinely interested.

Friday:  Run 5!!
Longest and fastest run post-surgery.  Sub-10 minute miles!  I bet the likes of Garvin, Galoob, and Pelletier are shaking in their boots hoping I don't enter the same races as them.  :)  Rambled about the Burlingame campground.  Kept me eye out for possible trails for June 1st, but unfortunately so many of them go through campsites, which the Y won't have the luxury of doing as people starting to camp there already.  In truth, I did stop numerous times on my 5-mile run, but it is still quite a bit of progress for me.

Saturday:  Run 5
WMS Track coach asked if I could lead some of the distance kids on a long run.  I felt I was ready, so I met up at their practice at WHS, and he assigned seven runners to me, two girls and five boys ranging from 6th to 8th grade, including Matthew.  Ran downhill to Wilcox Park, crossed the bridge over to Pawcatuck Park, and meandered over to Stillman Ave for the return to RI.  The kids thought it was cool that we ran to another state; I just hope I didn't break any school rules.  The pace was an easy 9-minute pace, as we had varied abilities and I needed to keep the kids together.  For a couple of them, this would be their longest run ever.

Returning to RI and crossing into quiet streets in the North End, I threw in 5 x (2 telephone poles hard, 2 easy), and told the kids they could separate here and we'd all get back together on the easy jog portions.  The three 8th graders (Matthew and the two girls) were always way up front on the hard portions.  I tried to catch Matthew on a couple of them, but just as the doc told me, I would feel it when I was pushing too hard and trying to near sprint was not agreeing with my surgery area, so I backed off.  Besides, Matthew was very happy to have beaten me!  I was pleased to hear a couple of them say they were glad they were taking a break from constantly running on the track.

Finishing the long run, I had 35 minutes to spare before picking Matthew up, so I went to the Y to try a few swim laps.  The pool was closed.  I'm sure FiveK is skeptical here, but I really did try!  Went to the sauna instead.

Sunday:  Run 5
The run:  Drove to Narragansett with a Critchlery-mobile on my tail.  He looked surprised when I pulled off on a side street 1/2 mile before start, but I was trying to avoid the logjam parking at race start.  Ran for the first time post-surgery at sub-9!  Was running part of the Blessing in reverse, when I saw a sign for "Crooked Brook Historical Trail".  Sounds like a good time for a course deviation!  The trail turned out to be only 1/2 mile, but was an interesting change.  Ran next on Ocean Road and up towards the race start, where I caught up with a couple of NRA runners.

Mile 1.4:  Timed my run to finish just as I heard the shotgun start.  A few minutes later I see the police motorcycle, with Chris in 2nd place and FiveK in 4th.  Seth isn't far behind in a pack of three runners, followed by Mike B all smiles as he comes over to slap hands.  Steve and Crutch round out the WTAC runners.  Time to run to the next station.
Went to the race with my own printed route map of viewing stations,
and datapoints of upper and lower range of projected arrival times at each point.
I didn't see other spectators bringing datapoints; you're probably wondering
why can't this geek just go to a race and watch at the start like everyone else?

Mile 2.4:  Not knowing Chris was running had thrown off my planned datapoints, and I arrived on Ocean Road just in time to see him coming but not quick enough to snap a pic with Jana's camera that she had kindly setup in advance so all I had to do was "press here, dummy".  Next up, FiveK was in 3rd.  He must have passed Keven O'Neill since I last saw him.  Seth was still in 8th, but being closely hounded by the same two runners.  Mike B was looking good in 18th, and Crutch had passed Steve by this point.

Weekly totals:
Walk 6 miles
Run 16 miles

Week highlights:

  • Returning to running!  
  • Seeing my pace drop sub-30, sub-20, and sub-10.
  • Westerly taxpayers voted to add 433 acres of undeveloped land (with some existing trails) to 800+ abutting acres in Woody Hill.
  • Preparing and submitting two alternative routes for Back Road Ramble.  Both add more singletrack and less asphalt, but it's up to YMCA what they want to do.
  • Watching my WTAC brethen tear it up at RI State Police Foot Pursuit 5K.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weekly Log 14-Apr to 20-Apr-2014: A [Hopefully] Short Hiatus from Running

The Spring of My Discontent:  I had a great winter running season, with record high mileage and great winter racing performances.  Spring thus far has been a let down for me with unforeseen issues.  I'm looking forward to getting past these health obstacles and returning to "normal".

Monday:  3
Very short run punctuated with mild discomfort.  Got home to answer a phone call from the doctor's office that I tested positive for Giardia, which is basically a nasty parasite wreaking havoc in my small intestine. Great - another issue!  I contracted this a few years back in Jamaica; no idea how I got it this time.
This is me trying to figure out which one to take.
I'm grateful to my PCP for ordering additional lab tests, but now for a guy who usually doesn't take any meds I'm on 3 drugs.  Which one did I already take?  Which one is daily; which one is 3x daily?  Uggh - only 7 days duration, hopefully I won't screw it up too badly.  I remember visiting my grandmother and seeing what seemed like a dozen prescription bottles, but she was in her 90s and I haven't hit 50 - I'm falling apart!

Tuesday: 7
Burlington, MA.  A really nice run with my cousin on a mix of local trails and roads.

On the ride home, the radio station I was listening to had a moment of silence at 2:49PM on the exact 1-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Reminded me of last year having such a great time and performance at Boston (a PR for me at the time of 2:56) only to be torn apart two hours later by a couple of selfish cowards.  Boston Strong!
These new racing flats (NB1400) came in today, and will be awaiting my return.
I've never had racing flats and while I feel like Imelda Marcos with my shoe
purchases lately, I couldn't pass up these $100 shoes at $52 on Amazon.
Mom is taking me to South County Hospital at 6:30AM, so Jana can make sure the boys get off to school.  Surgery at 8AM.

Pardon the lack of Strava and running updates for a bit, as we work to build a better gazelle ...

Hernia surgery completed 24 hours ago.  Yesterday was mostly a drug-induced blur, but surgeon said it went fine without complications.  Quite a bit of soreness and discomfort today, but I guess that's to be expected when someone cuts your stomach open.  As Chris forewarned me, it's difficult to get in and out of bed, and movement in general feels like it's pulling at the wound, but you have to start somewhere ...

Track:  Highlight of my day was going to watch Matthew's 1st middle school track meet of the season at Barrington, where he won and PR'd in both of his individual events:  3,000 (10:29) and 800 (2:29).  I'd recline in the car until Jana phoned me, then amble to the track.  Matthew was disappointed in his 800 despite the overall win and PR (sounds like Muddy), as he said he went out too fast (68 1st lap, 81 2nd).  In the 3K, after two laps there was just nobody near him, and it got confusing after a while when he lapped so many runners.  I calculated his average pace for the 3K at a 5:38, so I know my days of beating him are numbered! :)

Much progress today:  cut my meds down from 5 to 2 (Oxycodone is nasty stuff; don't know how people get addicted), was able to shower by myself (TMI?), and drove a few miles on my first day cleared to drive.  The driving wasn't pretty, as I'm like molasses getting into and out of the car and every turn of the body pulls at the wound, but it's progress.

Running plans:  My hospital discharge instructions include absolutely no exercise for 2 weeks minimum, then start back slow and easy.  If I'm able to race at all in May, I'll consider it a bonus, so I started looking at June races that don't conflict and entered a few into the "2014 Events" tab.  I got an e-mail from the new Arcadia YMCA Director asking me to join the race committee for the Backroad Ramble, so I think I'll take him up on that also.

My first walk!  A welcome break from the monotony of the couch.  Walked 1/2 mile around Wilcox Park with Jana, and had to keep asking her to slow down.  Apparently she doesn't like to walk at a 30 minute pace?

Headed to the beach for a flat easy 1-mile walk.  Quickly ran into Mike B, who was biking my way!  What a welcome surprise.  Will look forward to getting together with him and others for rides.

Weekly recap:
Run:  10 miles, more than I expected
Walk:  1.5 miles, again more than I expected

I'll leave you with two quips that I liked, both as I was being prepped for surgery this week:
From the anesthesiologist:  "Are you a runner?" (as my heart was beating at 50, and normal for adults is 60-100)
From the OR nurse:  "Why do you have so many cuts and scratches on your legs?" (perhaps only Beth would appreciate that remark)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Weekly Log 7-Apr to 13-Apr-2014

Trail race season is over.  So why am I still running on trails seemingly everyday?  Peaceful. Cathartic. Escape from a crazy world.  No traffic.  Variety.  Challenge.  Exploration.  My trail running friends can probably throw in a bunch more reasons.

Monday:  0
Rest day after Big River.

Tuesday:  7
Winchester Fells trails, Winchester, MA.  Had to be at a workshop in Burlington, MA at 10AM.  What to do with my time before then?  Reached out to my cousin who lives in Burlington and has run Li'l Rhody a few times, and asked for trail ideas.  His work schedule is flexible and he's said he plan something out and accompany me.  Cool!  There are a series of trails winding around reservoirs, and varying from flat fields to pine forest to gnarly root climbs.  Started in a sprinkling rain and finished in a downpour.  Fun!

Back at my cousin's house, grabbed my bag to change clothes, and wait a minute ... where are my pants and shirt that I took out last night?  Still hanging in my closet back in RI.  What a dolt!  What time does the Burlington Mall open?  10AM - that won't work.  Can't go to the workshop in soaked and muddy shorts and running shirt.  Fortunately, my cousin is only a size or so larger and taller than me, so borrowed clothes from him saved the day.

Wednesday:  5
Morning:  fun romping in Woody Hill northern section.
Apparently I have a stalker (in cyberspace and running)!
My run (on left); someone else's (right) hours later.
What is also very interesting is that my particular stalker appears to have stopped at a "Private Property -
No Trespassing" sign, while I explored a little more.  Seems a role reversal there?

Focal area of my run:  trying to find or lay the foundation for a trail to cut-through from Bradford Preserve to
Woody Hill Management Area.  Success!

Afternoon:  not so much fun.  Went back to the doctor to see why I still have pain in my stomach 2+ weeks after the virus started.  Potential diagnosis:  hernia.  Further evaluation on Friday, plus awaiting lab results to rule out other things.  Why can't I catch a break lately?!!

Thursday:  10
WTAC Trail Series celebratory run.  Ran from the Y with Mike G, Muddy, and FiveK.  Mostly uphill climb up Canal, Potter Hill, and Laurel to the Westerly Town Forest, and then the fun really started!  We jumped into the trails, descending 200' down to the Pawcatuck at a pretty good clip.  Climbed back up from the Pawcatuck.  I knew once we got to the crest it was going to be muddy, but honestly had no idea of severity.  The orange trail out to the power lines was a primordial soup of pond-size puddles, muck, and who knows what growing or living in there.  At first we pussy-footed around trying to skirt the muck, but as at Big River quickly switched to running right through the water and mud full speed.  After another rapid descent and then tiring ascent, we took a quick water stop and back at it!  Fast descent on rocky powerline trail to Boombridge, where we forded a final stream that was about knee deep!
On the roads for 2 miles back to Y and a change to dry socks, Mike and Tom set a blistering pace that I couldn't hold.  Muddy and I ran in the back at a much slower but certainly not pedestrian 6:10 pace. 
A fun brewery tour at GreySail followed by dinner at PizzaPlace.  Only downside for me was by the time pizza was served about 8:30pm, I was feeling quite light-headed after running hard with nothing to eat since Noon.  After Pizza Place, the alcoholics night-owls headed out for some more at Malted Barley, while I called it quits and thanked Mike for putting together a fun evening.

Friday:  0
Rest after a rather intense run Thursday.

Biked 19 miles.  My first time on the bike since September.  Caught up with Tom and Shara before they headed to Florida for a week, and Mike B joined us with his new wheels.  Went back in the afternoon for 3 more on a final calibration of new Clamdigger 5K course.

Biked 10 miles as part of Clamdigger RD duties.  On my bike, I not only got to personally thank all the volunteers and minor tweaks to signs and volunteer placement, but I had a great vantage point to see Mike G win the event, and a number of WTAC'ers PR, including Crutch, Muddy, and Matthew.

In my opinion, race overall was quite a success.  There are always some minor hitches (this time including overall winner awards not printed, issues in heating chowder, some people missed the 5K turnoff despite a sign and police marshal, and police had an issue with a few walkers taking up the middle of Atlantic Ave well after race thinned out).  However, overall, the pros far outweighed the cons, including the first time ever we offered both a 5K and 5-Mile, record participation at 220+, and fortunately great weather with very light winds.  Thanks to all the volunteers, including many WTAC board members both running and volunteering.

Week recap:
Ran 22 miles
Biked 29 miles

Not pretty, but with my various ailments of late, I don't see myself back to 50+ mile weeks in the immediate future.  Was really happy to get back out on the bike.  Obvious running highlights were the Thursday night WTAC celebratory run, and directing the Clamdigger.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Big River Half Marathon

West Greenwich, RI
Saturday, April 5, 2014

1:35:05.  7th place overall.  2nd place in age group for race; 1st for series.  Full results here.  

A few days earlier I was actually considering skipping this race.  I know, sacrilege!  But I still feel weak on the mend from a nasty stomach virus and hadn’t run more than 5 miles at a shot in the past 2+ weeks.  I knew I would have been miserable and sulking if I skipped the series finale, so just make the best of it.
Cool customized bib that I picked up at registration.

Miles 1 - 4:  After helping Muddy and Matthew setup the first water stop, followed by a very short warm-up, it was time to go.  Lined up about the 3rd row back, and consciously told myself not to run out after the leaders like I did at Brrr-lingame.  The siren went off, and I had a momentarily panicked moment as seemingly scads of people were passing me.  It's OK, R-E-L-A-X.  Entered the woods and single-track about 20th place and gradually started passing runners.  Most of the runners were easy enough to get around; just wait for a straight stretch and go for it.  However, about 1+ miles in, it took me a while to get around a train of about 6-7 runners being led by Sandals; had to do it 1-2 runners at a time.  There were some serious rivers and puddles to cross here!  Any early pussy-footing around them soon gave in to a "full speed ahead" mentality.
Did I mention some of the trails were a tad WET?!
(Photo by Scott Mason)
At maybe 2 miles in, I had passed about 10 runners total and could occasionally see Seth up ahead in the distance, just past "Green Scarf" (who after the race introduced himself as Brandon).  I had the urge to speed up to try to catch Seth, but kept reminding myself to run my own race lest I run out of steam early.  Another mile or so, just after I passed Brandon, I see Seth stopped in the trail ahead.  No trail markers, and three possible routes.  Seth went straight, I went left, and we vowed to yell to each other.  Turns out left and straight merged after an uphill, and Seth was now confident the course was correct.  Thanks to Seth, as I was lost.  I entered the first water station just behind Seth and Brandon, took some Gatorade from Matthew, got a GU and was off.

Miles 5 - 8:  Leaving the water station, we had a long downhill which I gazelled past Brandon and Seth, but told Seth he'd catch up with me again soon.  A number of good climbs and fast downhills here, still peppered with river and puddle crossings and plenty of muck.  I led most of the 4 or so miles here, but I could hear Seth and Brandon just behind me most of the way.  I pulled in first to the second water stop (unmanned), but took the longest time there (reminiscent of how slow my transitions are in tris) as I got another GU and plenty to drink.
Can't understand how my singlet got so muddy today! :)
Not sure if Jana was thrilled with me throwing this in the hamper.

Miles 9 - Finish:  Leaving the second water stop, I followed pretty close behind Seth, but it seemed that Brandon was putting some distance on us.  What goes around comes around and as the two of us caught back up to Brandon, he took a slight wrong turn, Seth yelled to him and Brandon rejoined the correct trail between the two of us, with Seth now leading again.  Seth was the one opening up the gap now, and I considered passing Brandon but then hesitated.  Finally at another muddy puddle crossing, I went right into the water and passed Brandon.  By the time we crossed New London Turnpike, I couldn't see Seth anymore and was momentarily confused at the first unmarked trail intersection just after NLT.  I guessed correctly to go left and only saw Seth from time to time, as he threw on the afterburners.  I was getting really tired now on the final few twisty miles, and was afraid Brandon would re-take me any minute, but I somehow held on to the end for a 7th place finish.
FiveK and "B":  see what awesome prizes you missed out on!
(One was Matthew's; one mine)
No cooldown for me.  I was spent.  Good catching up with all of the rest of the WTAC gang, and a really nice finale to the series.  While WTAC won the series, the kudos go to Mike G and his family for all his efforts in staging this series.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Weekly Log 31-Mar to 6-Apr-2014

A new week befalls us; illness and injury be gone.  Big River is nigh, and thus I have a race to run.

Monday:  4
Afternoon run on the roads.  Was really breathing hard.  Felt like I was running low 6s pace.  Nope, 7:40s!  Apparently, I won't be setting any land speed records on Saturday, but it's just good to be back running regularly.

Tuesday:  5
Got canoe?

I'm thinking of organizing a wet trail race on this yellow blazed trail.  Are you guys in?
 (Riverwood Preserve, aptly named today)
With downtime for illness, just finished reading this book (borrowed from FiveK).
While at times he comes off as pompous, he's done some pretty impressive stuff.
I'd have zero interest in Badwater or South Pole Marathon, but it's a really good
read on the Western States Endurance Run and his trials and tribulations there.
Wednesday:  5
Ran the Clamdigger 5-Mile course with the Mikes.  With the start and end painted marks on the road long gone after Sandy and re-paving, needed to set these markers, as well as determine 5K course.  1.5 weeks to go!

Thursday:  0
Finally signed up for Big River Half.  Seriously considering running this at an easier pace as I'm on the mend.  If I do decide to do that, from my lessons learned with Hendricken high school runners at Brrr-lingame, I'll make certain to sprint out ahead at the beginning until I get into the single-track, then slow down, block the trail, and loudly tell everyone that I'm not racing the event.

Friday:  4
Easy short run in Woody Hill.

Saturday:  14
Big River.  Write-up shortly.

Sunday:  3
Clamdigger 5K course measuring.

Weekly totals:  35

35 is still a low mileage week for me, but given I'm on the mend and it's the triple the volume of last week, I'll take it.  My next race is three weeks out now, and I'm hopefully that this fatigue and aches from the virus will be ancient history by then.  Will see if I can increase both the mileage and intensity over the next week.