Saturday, January 30, 2010

Official High School Version of Myself Ass Kicking Season

Somebody must have convinced me to run a half marathon during my last year of high school, because I did it. And I have no idea why. I never trained for the half marathon, since my runs were always focused on the 5k. You see, my hometown had a single 5-mile stretch of bike trail which at any given time probably had about fifteen people on it. A few runners, a few walkers, but mostly a few high school kids smoking blunts in the bushes. For the more adventurous runner there were always the roads that few cars ventured on. Like the one that went down into the canyon. I ran down the canyon road once and was greeted by a couple passerbys with a smile... and a couple middle fingers. Something about beat up truck driving rednecks and skinny runners didn't mix in that town. With little motivation to run outside of cross country practice, I kept additional running to a minimum. And by minimum I mean pretty much just running like hell from the house I just covered in toilet paper to the getaway car.

I've always wondered what my time was on the half marathon, mostly because I want to beat it. I recently wrote the race organizers (Chico Running Club) to find out and this was their reply:

"Unfortunately when they handed the web site and timing equipment over to me, the earliest results on file were for 2002. Sort of frustrating I know, but with the slowly revolving door of volunteer board members, I think things disappear with each personnel change."

So it looks like I'll never know for sure. A hazy memory of mine remembers that I ran a 6:30 pace (did I mention haaazy). Anyway, multiply 6.5 minutes by 13.1 miles and you get 1 hour 25 minutes. So there you go...that's the time I have to beat. No punk 17-year old high school version of myself is going to kick MY ass!!

So I hereby declare it the "Official High School Version of Myself Ass Kicking Season".

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shoe Experiments

I have been suspecting for over a month now that my running shoes may be the reason why I have knee pain. Consider this...
  • A week before I ran the Death Valley Borax Marathon on December 5th, I could barely run ten miles in my Saucony's because of knee pain. I wore different shoes (which I call "Old Faithful") during the marathon a week later and had NO knee pain. I suspected I would be walking off the course injured halfway through, but ended up feeling great the whole 26 miles.
  • I bought a pair of New Balance 859's two weeks ago. During my first two runs in these shoes I experienced severe knee pain. A couple days after each of these two runs I wore Old Faithful and experienced NO knee pain.
My hypothesis here is that my Old Faithful shoes are better for my knees, while my other two pairs are hurting me. To test this, I will be doing a few experiments. Below details my first, which I conducted this weekend:

Experiment #1: Run Saturday in Old Faithful and Sunday in my NB 859's. If I only experience knee pain on Sunday, then I will settle on two theories:
  1. My NB 859's are the cause of knee pain. -OR-
  2. My run on Saturday fatigued my legs enough that my Sunday run would have caused knee pain if wearing either shoe.
Unfortunately, wearing Old Faithful on Saturday gave me a case of sore knees, so I couldn't land on either of these theories. The soreness didn't occur so much during my run, but later in the day as my legs cooled down. After this, I felt that Sunday was bound to spell disaster, which it did. At this point it may be impossible to deduce exactly what started this injury about a month ago. The point is that I'm injured and I need to get better. I have noticed that all my recent runs without knee pain have been low mileage and on dirt, so I'm going to immediately implement this training regime until I'm better. This may also mean a switch to swimming on the weekend, when I normally go on long runs. Ah, there's nothing like outdoor swimming in the dead of winter...

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Dangerous Double-Sniff

It's pretty easy to remember the details of a traumatic event. It happened while driving to the supermarket to buy groceries for a party I was hosting. I turned right, switched over a lane, sniffed (I had a runny nose from a cold), and then decided that my lungs would allow a second sniff in the same breath. So I sniffed in a good one. Yeah, I thought, we're gonna put those sniffles to rest for a good 45 seconds with this one! And then upon that second sniff I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder while my muscles twisted into a giant knot. Let me be clear, it hurt like hell. I couldn't turn my neck.

My first thought was "Are you freakin' serious?!?" I've messed up my neck from sleeping on it funny. But from double-sniffing? You've got to be kidding. Nobody, and let me repeat NOBODY, should mess up their back from double-sniffing. That just ain't cool.

It has to get better from here. Messing up my knee, getting a mild flu, and injuring my shoulder via double-sniff is quite the week. I actually went on two short, slow runs this week and didn't have knee pain. So I'm really hoping I can get in a long one tomorrow....wait for it...that's what she said.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Minor Setback

Kind of sucks starting a blog on Saturday about qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and then the next day hurting your knee so badly that you have to call your girlfriend to pick you up midway through your run, right?

No joke, I am sitting on my couch right now with ice around my right knee, letting the ibuprofen sink in. I had to crawl up two flights of stairs to reach my apartment. I sat down on a stair, pushed my butt up to the next stair with my left foot, then repeated about 20 times. I couldn't even stand on my right leg. Meanwhile my girlfriend is looking at me in worry as I tell her how hilarious the whole situation is and that I am OK.

About two miles into my 10-mile run today I started feeling knee pain in both knees. There isn't anything new about this. I frequently feel minor aches and pains, but none of them have proven to last more than a few weeks. My right knee proved to be the weaker one, and was starting to involuntary buckle after about five miles. At this point I directed a few profanities at my knee, and convinced myself that no stupid knees were going to cut my run short. Besides, I thought, if I can't run ten miles then I might as well give it all up anyway.

At mile 8.5 I had to stop at a major intersection and wait about a minute for the green light. I suppose my body cooled down enough in that minute to bring the pain back. As a runner I've learned that injuries don't feel so bad when you're warmed up. But, ohhh, you'll be paying for it later. When the light turned green I could not only NOT run, but I was limping across the intersection. I stopped at the other side and stretched out, tried to walk it out, and then realized there was no way I could physically walk 1.5 miles home. Defeated, I called my girlfriend to pick me up.

I'm determined to fix this injury and ensure it doesn't happen again. I suspect doing lunges with poor form last week weakened my knees and quadriceps. My knees hurt a little on yesterday's run, but today really brought the pain out. I'm angry about this whole thing. But looking forward to healing and continuing my running.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Declaring my Goals

I decided to kick off my blog today with a 10-mile run. Yesterday I purchased a GPS-enabled running log which I was super-excited to try out. Unfortunately, I messed up by accidentally turning off the GPS signal during the first two miles. And then I got crapped on by a bird. Yes...a bird actually dumped green and white poop on my head.

As gross is poop on your head is, I actually enjoy these kinds of experiences. A few months ago I got attacked by a colony of fire ants in Texas and came away from the experience with a leg that developed a rash looking like acne. My entire leg from below the knee looked like a 13-year old's face. Awesome!

How we retrospectively view our experiences is often determined by our attitude. I could be grumpy and tell people how horrible it was to be attacked by fire ants (it hurt, it was shocking, I got a nasty rash...). And they would say, "Oh that sucks" and feel sorry for me. Or I could smile and talk about how ridiculously funny it was that I got attacked by fire ants, and in return people would laugh and enjoy the experience of me telling them the story.

Ok, so back to the kick off of this blog...

I was recently inspired to finally set a few goals that I've never dared before. They have always been in the back of mind, but for some reason I'd either pushed them to a later date or tried to write them off as too ambitious. Failure is a scary thing, and probably the main culprit in why people set goals too low for themselves. I've fallen prey to this a few times myself. Once I recognized low goal setting with my fitness goals, I said "screw it", and so I hereby declare the following goals for myself:

1. Qualify for the Boston Marathon during this upcoming race season
2. Complete a 50-mile ultramarathon
3. Learn to enjoy running (i.e. make it a Zen experience)

To qualify for Boston I need to run a marathon at a 7:15 mile pace. I'd like to think that the only thing that can come in the way of my goals is to get injured. Nothing else should be acceptable. I guess we'll see what happens...