Monday, July 12, 2010

The Short and the Long of It

Introductory Comments (aka, background whining)

Assuming there remain any "regular" readers, I should apologize for my lack of recent posting.  Part of it is that things have been pretty busy, but mostly it's due to the running malaise in which I currently find myself.

There are a few things going on, but the main problem is that I just don't feel "right" in my running.  My hips have been bothering me since before the Mount Washington debacle.  And, last Thursday/Friday, my lower back started to hurt for no discernible reason.  The most obvious reason for this problem is the fact that I have ditched my orthotic inserts in an effort to run "naturally", thinking/assuming/hoping that I could train myself out of needing whatever pronation-correction assistance those 2.2-ounce inserts provide.  In terms of other possible contributing factors, I have wondered whether the high-mileage buildup to Boston, followed by running 3 marathons in 6 weeks has essentially hamstrung my ability to go back to training the way I would like.

Mini-Race Report (aka, "The Short")

On July 3rd, I ran a little 5K (<200 runners) in Mid-coast Maine.  From past years' results, I might have had a chance to win it, if no one really fast showed up, and I was having a good day.  This year, I pegged the eventual winner just from how he looked warming up, and figured it may be a race for second place.

I had a nice long warmup on the hilly course, as the morning went from coolish and cloudy to warm, muggy and sunny in a typical Maine instant.  I changed into my "fast" shoes and lined up a couple of rows from the front.  Incidentally, the entire race reflected the spirit of the $5 registration fee, so the start was confusing, the course turned out to be a bit long, and the awards ceremony a bit underwhelming.

Almost immediately, I found myself in the top 20 or so runners, trying to find my pace and dealing with the automatic cottonmouth reaction I have in 5K races.  By the half-mile mark, I was likely in the top 10 and took a quick swig of water from the aid station.  That was all I needed to eliminate that awful dry-mouth feeling.

As expected, the leader took off and put a lot of real estate between himself and the second wave of runners.  When I saw him heading back after the turnaround, he was several hundred yards ahead of the second-place pack.  I was a bit behind that pack, and decided at the turnaround to move up so that I could a chance at second place.  I surged a bit, passed a couple of people on an uphill and then kept the second-place guy in my sights, with two other guys running stride-for-stride with me.

The rest of the race proved a frustrating exercise, as I worked my way up to third, but could not close the gap on the second-place guy (who, frustratingly did not look especially fit, nor did he look like he was working that hard, though he did look back a lot).  The two guys near me and I kept trading places, and I'd pretty much resigned myself to being 4th with about a 0.25-mile to go.  The guy behind then found another gear and blew past me and the third-place guy.  I ended up 5th overall in 19:39 on my watch, with no age-group awards. Last mile was the fastest, and the final 0.17 came out to an average pace of 5:38.  So, it was a decent effort, and my hips never locked up, though I did feel limited in terms of my turnover when I was fighting for a better place.  Overall, though, I was satisfied.

Recent Training (aka, Slogging Through)

I followed the 5K with 12.25 hot hilly miles on July 4th, where the only notable incidents were the chafing by my CamelBak and the fact that some jerks in a pick-up truck slowed down to heckle me.  I couldn't hear everything they said, but the phrase, "F-in' faggot" was pretty clear.  I simply cannot understand what would cause anyone to hurl such hateful words at a person who's merely doing his own thing.  It rattled me more than it should have, but I guess it's an unfortunate part of the rural running experience.

Last week, I managed 59 miles, but had trouble with any fast running.  I had no choice but to adjust the schedule my coach provided:
  • Monday - 6M easy on the trails
  • Tuesday - 10M with 1.5M at tempo(-ish) pace; Heat index was over 100, so I did this run on the treadmill, which was awful in its own right
  • Wednesday - 8M easy, with 8x20 secs strides
  • Thursday - 7M easy
  • Friday - woke up with the sore/stiff back; did 6.6+M, instead of the 9M with 10x400 at 5K race pace
  • Saturday - 7+, mostly on tough, hilly, technical trails
  • Sunday - 14.5+ miles; supposed to do the last 4M at current marathon pace (about 7:05), but managed 7:20 pace for 1.5M before my whole hip area protested
A Vermont-100 Preview (aka, "The Long of It")

The next big running adventure on the calendar is this weekend's Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run. I signed up to be a volunteer pacer, meaning that I would be assigned to accompany a runner for the last 30 miles of the 100-mile undertaking.  I'll post more about this separately, but suffice it to say that I now find myself assigned to an internationally accomplished female ultrarunner who's seeking to break the women's course record.  In a flash of revelation, I went from fearing that I would be walking with someone for 8 or so hours, to fearing that I won't be able to keep up, despite my runner's 70-mile "head start".  Oh well, we'll see how that goes.  Regardless of what happens, it should be interesting, challenging, inspiring and a nice break from training and my own chronic running-related concerns. 

Happy summer running, everyone. -ESG/Ron


Girl In Motion said...

You're in my Blog Reader, so I guess that makes me one of your "regular readers". :-)

Aw, sweetie, hugs and more hugs to you. I can totally understand the period you're going through, mine's lasted 9 months. I think this is just the way it is for some of us, we have these down times so when it picks back up, we'll be all the more ready for the next wave. Of course, it makes me envious of some of our running pals who never miss a beat, but I've a feeling everyone gets this eventually.

Anyway, you're going to bring that woman to a record, keeping up with her no problem, then come here and tell us what an amazing adventure it was. Just one of the many you've still to come.

findingflow said...

To get the hips working right, you might check out Feldenkrais, and specifically Jack Heggie's Running with the Whole Body. It's helped me tremendously.

Good luck!

EZEthan said...

I get so freakin' upset when someone harasses me when I'm running... some rednecks threw a beer can at me out of a truck once in 1996 and my blood still boils when I think about it!