Friday, April 22, 2011

Recovery is coming along.... other random thoughts....

I don't really have a theme for this post. Just a little catch up on the week's training and thoughts. I don't blame you if you don't make it through this whole post. I wrote it mostly for cathartic reasons - just to recall a successful week of injury recovery / rebuilding. I don't think it's going to be that entertaining ;-)

I've been able to run pretty well this week. Not blazing fast, but definitely faster and longer.

Tues - 10 miles w/hills in Bear Creek in the early morning. I forgot how much I love running and getting that behind me first thing. It's fun to leave the quiet house when everyone is still sleeping (or just stirring), and then to come back into an awake household. Luke is always so excited to see me back from a run. Toast before the run and a big fruit shake afterwards - yeah!

Wed - 4 miles on the treadmill and lifting. I dropped my $70 bucks for 3 months at the 20th St. Gym downtown. I used to go there all the time back in the late '90s / early '000 - it hasn't changed. Funky downtown gym with a boxing ring that looks and feels like a city gym should. I had investigated the high zoot gym in my building and the Athletic Club Tabor Center. They are beautiful gyms, but a little pricey for my usage patterns (as I've said before - I'm an outdoor cat). But $23 / month at the 'Y' - I can live with that :-)

Thur - 8 mile route downtown at lunch. I have a bunch of routes downtown that go 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 10 / 12 - and could probably mix something up in between. I like the 8 mile route that heads off the Cherry Creek Trail down past Denver CC and to the mall. Hangs north past the Whole Foods to 7th and then back to where Broadway intersects the trail again to the office. It's the perfect length and I like running through all the neighborhoods. Felt really good even though I ran a 7:50 average pace and was doing some light Fartlek play down to 6:45's and even 6:30's. Stopped at Quizno's for my $5.50 turkey sub with cheese, no mayo and all the veggies doubled down. I always have to explain it and they look at me funny. I think most people ask for extra meat and cheese ;-)

Friday - Road bike commute. 17 mile route in / 19 mile route (bike path) back. On the way in I decided I'm going to retire / sell the Can-O-Swill. It's been a good bike for 13+ years now, but since I've been riding my newer Tarmac Pro - I've realized just how squirrelly the 'Swill is. It's a criterium geometry (do they still even make those?) which means the head tube is a little steeper (i.e. - it wants to turn quicker than you might want). It's also always been a little small on me - so I hang out a little too far over the front wheel, and on descents, it's just a little hairy. Did I mention the brakes don't really work very well, such that you have to 'plan ahead' (either by braking early or picking your bail-out exit). When I got downtown I finally rented one of the bike lockers in our parking garage. It's nice now because instead of locking my bike to the crowded rack (something I'd be a little nervous doing with the Tarmac for theft and banging into reasons), I can just open up my locker door, and wheel the bike in. It's totally enclosed, meaning I can leave my helmet, bike pump and tool bag on it as well as not having to carry the stupid U-Lock (which accounts for half my pack weight) on the commute. We used to be able to leave the U-Lock lashed to the rack, but the garage started cutting them off at random times. Anyway - with the locker I can now also leave a spare pair of work shoes in the locker - no more stocking feet up to the office (or sliding around on cleats).  $25 / month - I think it's worth it even if I only commute in 5 or 6 times a month.

Oh yeah - the ride in and back was nice too. I love riding in and traipsing into the Starbucks in my bike gear. Ordered a Grande Americano with soy milk and the Perfect Oatmeal - yum.

Ride back was good - a little windy. Rerouted through Bear Creek, the climb up from Homestead golf course wasn't as bad as I recall and it's more pleasant that riding up Kipling with all the traffic noise.

Saturday is 6 miles running easy / Sunday maybe 10 or 12 with some hills. Probably do a lifting session on Sunday as well - although I'm guessing the gym won't be open. Will need to break out the Chuck Norris Total Gym.

And that's all he wrote.... for now.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blog recommendation for the sport's physiologist in some of us

I subscribe to the blog, "The Science of Sport" and thoroughly enjoy it.

It's a very well written and thoughtful look at a variety of topics around sports. Everything from discussions on doping to scientific calculations around whether (or when) the 2 hour mark can be broken in a marathon. Granted, it can get a little 'techie' and involved to read - but isn't that what mental growth is about?

Their blog is at:

The latest post was a recap of the Boston Marathon (and the blazing 2:03:02 men's winning time) - along with estimations (and analysis) around how the 14mph tailwind played in.

Scroll down near the bottom to see an absolutely amazing slow-motion / crisp video of the lead women as they came into the home stretch. I'm always in awe of how beautiful the human body can look when running at the top elite levels like this.

These top three women (A US runner Desiree Davila - who is third in the video actually came in 2nd and put on quite a push at the end for first that made it yet another exciting women's finish in Boston).

Anyway, watching them all run, I was reminded of the often obstructed fact that we are part of the animal kingdom and not just clumsy trolls behind a desk. We are capable of such amazing and beautiful physical movement that goes beyond our most unique attribute - our minds. I found the blending of the video into a fairly 'brainy' and scientific journal a symbolic mesh along this theme.

PS - I actually read their book, "The Runner's Body" long before I realized they had a blog. I highly recommend the book, which dispels a lot of commonly held myths.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic

Friday: 5mi (treadmill) @8:30
Sat: ~22 mi road bike ride with hills - felt super strong. Out of the saddle descending Deer Creek, blowing past folks :-)
Sun - AM upper body / core lifting / 8mi run (outside - FINALLY) at 8:30 pace. Had to keep reeling it back in. At one point I felt like I was running easy but noticed I was covering ground quickly. Looked at my GPS and realized I was running 7:30 - actually said out loud, "Whoah there flash... ease up"

Today is my usual OFF / REST day. Then going to start this week pushing up the volume but keeping the pace in the recovery / easy zone - following the Lydiard axiom that LSD (Long Slow Distance) is your 'home' when things go sideways. Looking to run just under 40 miles this week with another 20 of cycling and a couple lifting / core sessions thrown in.

Also been thinking and talking to my coach about going forward; only running 5 days per week (instead of 6) and putting in a good cycling day on that odd day out instead. Makes good sense to me.

Feeling pretty good about recovery and being able to put in a strong effort at Bolder Boulder. Got my packet pickup eMail reminder the other day. My race qualifying time puts me in wave AB (3rd wave - fyi - there are like 91 waves! That's a big race!). Hoping to run around a 6:40 pace - which would *almost* get me into wave 2 for next year :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Slow but sure...

Just a quick update. I was able to do 3 miles today at 9:30 pace on the treadmill with no issues.

I can feel it 'hovering' there on my hamstring, just above the back of my knee, but it doesn't get worse or hurt with running. Could have gone faster / further - but err'd on the conservative side as I know I should right now.

Afterwards I stretched the living daylights out of it :-)

Still hoping to run easy outside - maybe on Sunday. Tomorrow is a road bike ride - or the gym to lift, depending on the weather.

Monday, April 11, 2011

On the road to recovery...

So it's been a little less than a week since my hamstring went 'twang' on the track and things are recovering well. Really the only thing I can't do right now is run - although I was encouraged on Sunday doing a mile at an 11 min pace on the treadmill. I could have gone faster / further - but it really was just a test, I know better than to push the envelope on things like that.

I had a couple of sad moments last week. One was when I got my 'Final Instructions' eMail from the Platte River 1/2 marathon. I had planned on running it and was 90% sure I'd break 1:30 based on previous pacing workouts. And I was REALLY looking forward to the race for the past 3 months. I just sighed and deleted the eMail.

The other moment was early Sunday morning when I woke up and saw how beautiful a day it was (minus the wind) and felt a little 'left out'. I was glad though that the weather turned out nice for everyone running it - especially with the up and down report throughout the week. Never would I wish for miserable weather just to feel better about missing the race. If anything, bad weather would have made me feel worse. In a way, I was happy that my fellow runners, many of whom I know - would have a good day.

At around 10:30am I saw the clock and realized I would have been finishing about then. And that made me feel a little sigh of relief that it was now behind me (either way) and I was 'moving forward' again. I know that might sound silly, but I promise you it makes perfect sense.

Aside from that, I've actually been having fun and have worked out every day since taking last Wed off. I've been in the gym lifting weights, out on the road bike, and did 30 minutes of elliptical and a mile treadmill run on Sunday. Felt great afterwards and although my hamstring injury is still 'there' - the pace that it's recovering tells me that it probably wasn't as bad as I originally thought.

Bike riding is my salvation of course, because it's something I love (I wrote a whole post about re-discovering my love of cycling last year) It gets me outside and in fresh air. I can put up with the gym, but as I've said before, I'm an outdoor cat.

This morning I commuted in from my house (about 19 miles-ish) on the Can-O-Swill; my long time commuter bike that has a whole story behind how I acquired it, how it got named and how it acquired it's 'rocket-popsicle' paint job (shown below in an earlier photo).

Last night I decided to treat myself and get a nice commuter pack (retiring the crappy but functional JanSport pack I've ridden with for well over a decade and a half). I got a very nice Osprey Talon 22 from REI. The thing is whiz-bang out the wazoo and makes my Jansport look like a dinosaur. And with my REI dividend and 20% off coupon which expired yesterday, reducing the $99 retail price to $35 wrenched out of my wallet.

The pack worked great this morning. No reaching behind 10 times per commute to re-center the pack after turning a corner. It just sticks to your body. The weight was also much better balanced. Sheesh - it took getting injured to pull the trigger on this?

Got into work and stretched EVERYTHING. Leg of course feels great. There isn't anything that cycling can't fix - it's the wonder drug.

Tonight I'll have a commute home, then the gym to lift tomorrow and maybe another test run on the mill. I'm hoping to be running outside by next weekend.

Easy does it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Hulk - S M A S H !"

As part of my dedication to turn this injury into something positive, I decided I would start on the much procrastinated strength / core program I've been putting off in lieu of 'getting another run in'.

So this morning I was up at 5:15am and off to the gym to lift weights, attend to my abs and back, do some yoga and hamstring stretching to keep it lengthened while it heals.

I have to admit that I really had fun. Wearing a sweatshirt and baseball cap, listening to Van Halen (II), and in general through my sets of free weights - feeling HUGE.

Of course then I hit the lockers, and standing there in my skivvies looking in the mirror, I realized that while I felt like the Incredible Hulk, I still look like a runner. Definitely in shape, but certainly not going to threaten Lou Ferrigno any time soon.

Unless I had his car keys and he had to chase me to get them back.

..... maybe I should get some purple sweat pants?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kaboom..... Not Fair...

So I think I mentioned that after last Sunday's 4 mile race, I had this tweak in my foot arise. Well, by Tuesday it was totally gone and I decided to head to the track. At the track I talked with my coach and agreed that if there were any twinges there I would just back off and do some non-running work.

I warm up and do some strides - not a peep from the foot. I confirm with my coach and she says there are no compensations in my stride and everything looks fine.

We all set out to do 8x400 relay repeats. I'm feeling good on the first one with a little tightness in my hamstring in the last 100m. I stretch it and check in with my foot - no issues. I head out on the second 400m and my hamstring is tightening up again. I decide that this probably needs to be my last 400m and I really focus on just relaxing through the rest of the lap. Mind you - I'm running fast (~5:50 - 6:00 pace) - but that's about 80%, not sprinting by any means.

Then coming around the last turn, my hamstring goes from tight to really tight to a sharp twang about 1/3 of the way up - all in the course of less than 10m. No real warning and all of a sudden I'm hobbling off the track thinking - "OK, that's not good at all".

All I could think of was 'Not Fair!' - I mean, sure little tweaks and stuff coming up, but no real warning that I was going to go from moderate tightness to blowing a hamstring out - certainly not in that short of a distance. Heck, I wasn't even worried about my hamstring because it hasn't given me any indication that it's been under duress. A little tightness in the final sprint of the Sunday 4 miler that subsided within minutes afterwards with no soreness afterwards. Nothing in the previous weeks.

'Not Fair' is the fact that the Platte River 1/2 marathon, which I've been training for the past several months for and felt 95% confident in running a sub-1:30 at, is this Sunday (which ain't going to happen for me by any stretch of the imagination at this point).

'Not Fair' is the fact that I've been having one of the fastest periods of my years of running over the past few weeks. My pacing workouts have been 6:30-6:50 with strong intervals in the 6:10 range. Strong efforts - but no straining to get there. I'm lighter than I've been, good attention to nutrition, and feeling like a million dollars. I walk around feeling like I'm *oozing* jet-fuel. AND - the last couple weeks have been a taper period. I ran like 40 frickin' miles last week - that's a vacation from 55-60 mile weeks!

'Not Fair' is that I was planning on a few weeks of easy running to let my body recuperate. But my body didn't seem to be able to hold out for that and decided we were on vacation early. When I tried to even moderately ask it to go fast last night - it rebelled.

As Liz Lemmon would say - "Whuck?" "Blerg" and "What the what?" - all in one continuous stream of profane innuendo.

So here I sit, last night and this morning - feeling sorry for myself, calling 'foul' and all that. Icing, resting and a compression bandage wrapped around 1/3 of my hamstring. And I know, I know...... I could write all the rebuttals and have been practicing my positive thinking, "These things happen when you are feeling strongest" / "Most elites even struggle with injury because running competitively is much harder on your body than running for recreational" - blah, blah, blah....

And Paige has been great - being a competitive athlete, she understands the frustration of injury and setback. She keeps giving me hugs and saying how sorry she is about what happened. She's a sweet girl and a most wonderful wife.

And I know the drill, and know that I'm not relegated to the couch, eating a Hefty size bag of Costco M&Ms, drinking Pepsi from a 2 liter bottle and watching reruns of  'Dawg, Bounty Hunter' and 'Cake Boss'. I'll be on the bike and then the eliptical and able to focus on some upper body weight training and core work. And then there will be some light running in a few weeks and stretching and in 'no time' - I'll be racing again.

But sorry - I just want to mope and wallow for a bit longer..... and then...

I'm sitting on the couch this morning, ice under my leg. Drinking coffee and watching the Today show or something like that with Luke propped on my lap eating a fruit snack. And this segment comes on about a couple with a little 2 year old girl - and just recently both the couple are diagnosed with untreatable cancers. Both are not going to be there to see their little girl grow up. And I listen to them and they are pushing forward. They are not moping or wallowing (although I'm sure they went through even darker moments in dealing with this true tragedy that is 'Not Fair' by any stretch of human imagination).

And at that moment, I feel small and petty. I kiss Luke on the head and inhale him. That familiar scent that every parent knows fills my lungs. I have everything and more than anyone should ever need to be ecstatic in their lives. I have a wonderful, beautiful and loving wife. I'm so proud of the people my 3 oldest kids are turning into. A precious gift of a 3 year old that likes nothing better than to sit on his dad's lap and drink his fruit snack. A great job, perfect health and athleticism - for someone my age and even much younger.

And in a classic anecdote, I realize that what happened last night is just a little mechanical set back to a very small part of what makes up my life. A little bump in the road. Injury is not something separate from being a competitive athlete - it's an integral part of it. Inevitably woven into the fabric of what it means to be an athlete. To not accept it as part of the mix is to not accept the life of an athlete.

While you can minimize the risk of injury - you can't avoid it. It's like the Coyote invetibly blowing himself up with the ACME explosives gone wrong, or getting run over by the speeding train, or falling off the cliff. If you chase the Roadrunner, then you're going to go 'Kaboom', 'Splat' or 'Twang' once in a while. If you can't deal with that, then you need to stop chasing the Roadrunner.

So 'Beep beep' and on to the rehab.......Bring it!  :-)


ps - Bet you didn't think this post would turn out like this did you? Neither did I this morning.

Monday, April 4, 2011

City Park 4 mile race - and a tweaked foot

Raced the City Park 4 miler with my running club on Sunday.

Time was 26:27 (average pace of 6:37) which put me 14th out of 66 men (there are some fast folks in that club - the top three guys ran 5:48 / 5:45 / 5:41).

The weather was strange yesterday in that at race time (9am), the weather was beautiful in the low 60's. By afternoon it was snowing (although none stuck around). Quite a head-wind during the race, I think I could have run 6:32's without the wind.

What's weird is that although I had no issues during or after the race, I woke up at 11pm last night with a pretty painful tweak in my right foot. Strange. I must have come down on it wrong (although I don't recall and wasn't really outrunning my pace). I've run harder workouts in the past few weeks - not to mention the mileage this week was only 40 miles - which feels like a vacation now (previous weeks have been about 60 mile weeks). Strange too in that it didn't hurt until after I went to bed.

Ah well, it happens. Not a recurring issue for me so I just need to let it heal. I'll ride the bike this week as rehab until it's right again. Hopefully I can pull it back together before the Platte 1/2 marathon this coming Sunday - that's a big race for me. But if not, there's not much I can do except plan for another 1/2. Bolder Boulder 10K is next on the agenda (end of May) - although if I don't do the Platte then I'll have to toss in another race between now and then.

Other good news is that while in China I was able to keep my weight down and in fact lost a pound. It's nice to be back to my usual nutrition and diet. The food in China is good, but not overly healthy by sport's nutrition standards (not enough fruit / lean meats and too much oil).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

10 mile run in Hangzhou, China (Video Blog)

Just got back from my quarterly China trip. Weather was great and got some good runs in while I was there. Last time I got 'grief' for not posting pictures of the run, so I went one better.

Attached is a little video blog / movie that I pulled together from my 10 mile run on Saturday morning. If you want to see the sights and sounds of what a run through the city and along the river in Binjiang district of Hangzhou China, then follow the link below. It's 14:53 long with a collage of narrated video clips and pictures set to music.

If you have trouble with the embedded video, you can go directly to the video on YouTube via