Having shuffled Mr. Pfitzinger's schedule to conform to the reality of an ailing (and aging) body, I picked up running again after three complete rest days. I did an easy 5+ miles on the trails on Saturday (coming out of the woods behind the school's chapel, as seen on the left), and - truth be told - it wasn't a great run. Despite the fact that it was a glorious morning (the kind where the hat and gloves ended up tucked into my shorts because it got into the 50's unexpectedly), my hips bothered me some, and my HR was high for the easy pace I was running. I could definitely feel the ache for the rest of the day, but tried stretching, icing and foam rolling.
The day's highlight turned out to be my six-year old son's first AA baseball game. I think they managed two innings in this coach-pitch match-up between two well-oiled baseball machines (throat clearing noise here). Actually, it was adorable, as kids from 5-7 years old mixed it up on a nice, cool, sunny Spring morning. Everyone bats until he/she gets a hit, and the fielders go through the motions, but outs are not recorded. Despite never actually seeming to slide into a base, dive for a ball in the field or otherwise lay himself out for the sake of athletic glory, somehow my boy's pristine white uniform (#1) ended up filthy from top to bottom. Kids are quite talented that way.
Because I viewed the 17-miler with 14 at marathon pace as perhaps THE key workout of the 18-week plan, I was nervous about whether I'd even be able to attempt it, much less complete it. I hung out with my son this morning, taking him to the indoor athletic field during the morning's 40+-degree drizzle. He took batting practice, played catch, he ran some laps on the 1/10-mile track (he's "training" to run the kids' 1-mile fun run in Burlington on marathon weekend), I stretched. It's always great to be with him one-on-one; we just connect better and he doesn't pine for his mom as he does when she's around.
By the time my wife and youngest daughter got home from a birthday party, it was almost 1:00 p.m., and the rain had mostly stopped. Temps were in the high 40's/low-50's, which was perfect. The wind picked up at times, but never for too long. I put the NB 903's on for the second time, this time with my orthotics, and they felt great . . . mostly. The new Injinji socks felt a bit odd, but once I got used to the feeling of having each toe individually wrapped, they felt good, too.
I set out on a charted out-and-back through the least hilly area I can find around home. It's still far from flat, but the ascents are usually less than a hundred feet per mile, instead of some of the less forgiving options. By running every side street and cul-de-sac in a certain neighborhood, I can get nearly 8 miles out of what would otherwise be a less-than-four-mile route.
Tried to start with a single warm-up mile, but, just like last time I set out to run MP, I drifted into the MP zone. I took that as a sign that my body was ready to go, and went for the 7:50-7:55/mile target pace. Amazingly, my HR was lower at sub-8:00 pace today than it was at 9:00+ pace yesterday. The first few MP miles felt great, though I slowed on the uphills and had to make myself not run 7:30-ish on the flats and downhills. I could feel my hips (especially the right one), but they weren't really slowing me down. That is, until I'd run 6.43 miles, when I felt a stab in right hip that made me think not only that this run was over, but also that I might need to reassess Burlington. Trying to be the new "pseudo-Zen" me, I did not panic. I stopped, stretched, massaged the hip HARD and started running again at the fastest pace I could hold.
The setback and an extended uphill slowed me down to close to an 8:20/mile pace, but I continued to press on and got the pace down again to sub 8:00-minute miles. I decided that there was no point risking injury to push through for the full 14 miles at MP, so I got to 10 and then slowed down. Interestingly, the easy running didn't feel much better, I think because I'd been concentrating more fully on my stride length and leg turnover during the MP and the "light touch" of my feet on the ground somehow put less stress on the sore hips/glutes.
Total for the run was 15 miles, with 10 at or near MP. All things considered, I'll take it, though it was less than I'd set out to do (i.e., not the "whole enchilada").
Due to the seemingly drastic nature of the hip issue, I took the equally drastic post-run measure of immersing myself in the first ice bath in a long time. If distance running is a masochist's pursuit, then the ice bath just heaps the insult onto the injury. My 4-year old daughter got way into it, and said that she'd like to be in the bathroom with me so that she could say "brrrrrrrr" as I soaked in the 40-degree tub. She was true to her word, and I actually appreciated her company. She put her hand into the tub for about 5 secs and then said it was all "tingly". That's how everything below my waist felt until it went numb.
A lukewarm shower and I was good-to-go for a family candlepin bowling outing with my wife and kids. It was the end of their April vacation week, and we wanted to do something fun, since we didn't go away this year. They chose candlepin bowling, and kooky New England leisure pursuit with small balls and small pins. Strikes are nearly impossible and spares only slightly less rare. My oldest daughter beat me by one pin in a sudden-death bowl-off. My wife - usually the ringer of the family - had an off-night.
The week calls for the following mileage (note that I'm not doing any speedwork until the hip is 100%):
- Mon - XT (elliptical, core & weights)
- Tues - 5M (w/6x100 strides)
- Wed - 10M (skipping intervals)
- Thurs - XT/rest
- Fri - 10M
- Sat - 4-5M
- Sun - 22M (schedule calls for 20)
Final note is that Passover ended today at sundown, so it's back to the full-range of carbo-fueling options between now and race day.
If you read this whole post, thank you (though you should have better things to do).