Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Five Days to Go

ORN: Zero. Resting

It is Tuesday morning as I write this. On Saturday, I'm signed up for a trail marathon.

I'm nursing my ITB back to health. My foam roller and I are very well acquainted. I'm working on my quad strength and my core strength.

But resting my leg.

This is really wierd...not running. It breaks up a major rhythm of my life. Yet, it is proving very instructive. When I put it all together, I'll write more about it.

I'm really looking forward to the race and the time with Darrell. He has a rock-star or management consultnat guru type week ahead of his travel here for the race. We'll have a lot of fun. I just have no idea, none at all, as to how I'll respond to the race conditions.

The plan Darrell and I have right now is that we'll hang together for the first 6-7 miles or so, then I may well let him surge on. I could well be in a spot to walk the uphills and run the rest. Which wouldn't be so bad, if I can keep moving with minimal discomfort. I also am comfortable with the likelihood of a DNF. I simply don't know.

This is an awesome lesson. Stay tuned for race reports.

And, yes, I will persevere.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Humor at our gathering, courtesy of today's Dilbert

So, when the family gathered late this afternoon for Thanksgiving dinner at our house, in-laws and others all asked, at different times, "Hey, Joe, did you read Dilbert this morning?"

Yes I did. And, as a 53 year-old marathon runner, it was within a single digit of hitting right on the money.

One relative asked "So, does 53 feel old?" "Only if you are in your 20s" I replied.


So I smile. Even if the ITB hassled me during my meager 4 mile run today, I'll stick with it, 53 or not. With weather in the mid 60s, light whispy clouds in a beautiful blue sky on Thanksgiving Day in Indiana, who cares? It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed it.

Persevere. Gums and all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How to make Big Money taking Marathon Photos

ORN: Zero...still resting ITB

In the early 80s, I had this idea of taking photographs of people doing sports. I figured I'd then sell them the photos and make a lot of money just hanging around sporting events. I called the company "ActionPix" and did some work around town

Well, I wasn't that good of a photographer and was even a poorer salesman. Plus, doing this with film cameras required a lot of up-front costs. All that was left of ActionPix was a rubber stamp with my return address. But, now that I'm running, I see the keys I missed for wild financial success. I illustrate, with myself, from the Portland Marathon.

Step 1. Get photos with significant local landmarks in the back ground.

Here I am at the 17 mile mark, coming off the famous and visible St. John's Bridge. It makes for a great backdrop. It also helps that I see myself here yacking with my newly-found running friend Phil. This was about the time Phil wanted to pick up the pace. I was urging him not do...and they captured the moment on film.

Step 2. Capture touching human moments.

Like a high five with a kid. I'm amazed they got this photo. The timing is impecible, even if the high five is "wimpy", as my 18 year old described it.

It's also good I have this photo...as I absolutely can't remember the moment. From the background, I know it was with about 3/4 of a mile to go to the finish. I wasn't thinking of much else at that point besides just finishing. The legs were shot and I was hanging on. I am pleased that I at least managed a wan smile for the kid who was trying to encourage me.

Step 3. Capture the finish with the race logo in the background.

This is the photo I want as a runner. That instant when I realized it was over, I made it, another marathon under the belt. I knew I had a PR and despite the physical exhaustion, I'm thrilled. And they captured it for me. Not to mention the high-tech mat timing device being held up by a milk crate. Hey, it's all there.

Yeah, I paid the money for the photos. And if only ActionPix had been around to participate.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

7 is not 18

ORN: 7+ miles, significant knee pain

The enthusiasm I had a week ago today after doing 16 miles was completely reversed today.

I set out to do 18 around mid-day, as a last long run before the Tecumseh Trail Marathon two weeks from today. Three miles in, I could tell my right ITB/right knee was not in good shape. By five miles, the pain was severe enough that I had to walk some. I cut off the route and headed back home, in a run/walk sequence. Once home, I pulled on a compressive knee brace and went back out to see if that helped. Nope.

I'm not fully sure what to do. My thinking at the moment, though, is to take it easy the next two weeks and then just see what happens on Dec 2. If I can make it, I make it. If the pain is severe, I'll take a DNF and be OK with it.

I had hoped this ITB issue was behind me. I'm guessing not. But, we will get through it. An ITB injury is not cancer. It is not a dangerously harmed relationship. It is not a burnt-out house. Perspective is important and I had a good chance to think through that all day.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Teetering on the Edge of the Bed

ORN: 3 miles, no watch

Business travel can sure wreak havoc with the running schedule. I was at a two-day seminar, which, while useful professionally, had too much eating, too much sitting, too little sleeping and too much driving in too much rain. I did manage one run on Tuesday, but it was rather unsatisfying.

Getting home late Wednesday night, I set the alarm to go run on the A Course this morning. When the alarm went off, though, it was a struggle. I forced myself to at least sit up on the edge of the bed, no small task considering how tired I was. I then smiled and remembered the motivational phrase I use at that moment: "If you don't get up, you won't finish the marathon."

It was a good thing I didn't know any more about the weather than the temperature. While 42F is not a problem in itself, the 20mph wind and pelting drizzle were tough this morning. I cut the planned 5 miler down to 3 in the lousy conditions. I need to do 18 on Saturday and I'm still shy about my right ITB.

But I did get out. And it was mind over mattress for at least one cold, dark morning.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

On achieving excellence

ORN: Day off.

I’ve read over a dozen marathon reports this fall. All special, all inspiring, all well-told.

Yet, all but one had a melancholy tone to them, either a goal not met, an injury incurred, a deep disappointment. All but one had a “gut it out to the end” feel. Which is certainly what a marathon often does and in itself teaches one many lessons.

All but one.

The one was Dianna, the
Running Chick with the Orange Hat, in her description of the Hartford Marathon. In contrast to the other descriptions (and indeed to descriptions of her earlier marathons), her report was one of anticipation, planning, execution, exhilaration, finishing and stated goals achieved. In her case, qualifying for the Boston Marathon while smashing her previous PR.

What was the difference? I’ve mulled it a lot.

Di had a coach. None of the rest of us did.

What does a coach do that made such a difference? What is the dynamic?

First, a coach is outside of ourselves. Running is a lonely sport. Indeed, many of us describe one of the great joys of running is being by ourselves, savoring time away from work, obligations, phone calls, emails, errands. Yet, in that isolation, we can’t see ourselves. A coach breaks through that self-imposed isolation. The coach watches us, literally or figuratively. The coach sees things we can’t see ourselves. And we only improve when we get outside ourselves.

Because of this, the coach tells us things we don’t want to hear. In contrast to our running blogs, where we voice our own opinions and most comments are encouraging, the coach will disagree. The coach must correct. The coach must tell us the effort we considered excellent 6 months ago is now inadequate. The coach will not let us slack off of our goals. The coach will make us mad. The coach will make us uncomfortable.

Face it, we all tend to self-justify our actions. A coach won’t accept that. She will say “Hey, do you want a 4 hour marathon or not? If so, you have to do the mile repeats I laid out for you. Do it again tomorrow.”

A coach is a steadying influence. A coach is not concerned with the day-to-day fluff we throw out, though he may listen to it anyway. A coach helps us get where we want to go. And when we get our eye off the goal, the coach puts us back on task.

In telling us things we don’t want to hear, the coach builds humility. She builds the attitude of a learner. This is itself a very difficult thing for most of us to accept. We simply don’t want to be “coachable” because we want to know it all ourselves. Without humility, though, we will not improve. With it, we can go amazing places.

Di had a magnificent marathon, finishing strong, blasting through the pain to reach her goals. As a result, she’ll be running on a Monday in April.

Most of us “got through” our fall marathons.

There is a difference.

A coach.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

That’s More Like It
ORN: 16.3 miles, 2:39:26, 9:47/mile


I’ve been fighting an annoying ITB since early October. And for the first time since the Portland Marathon, I had a honest, solid, long run on a Saturday. Man, I have missed this rhythm. It’s been two months since I’ve done this mainstay of my weekly rhythm.

It was probably a good preparation for the Tecumseh Trail Marathon. It was raw, windy, wet and grey, just as it could well be three weeks from today. And I decided to just run. The right ITB was there, murmuring but not shouting. The lungs worked, the quads worked, the new Adidas supernovas worked. I am finally encouraged about making the upcoming marathon itself enjoyable. I’ll be hosting Darrell as he checks Indiana off his 50 state list and that will be lots of fun. But I didn’t really know how my own running would be. I’m feeling better.

Mega kudos for this nice turn of events to fellow bloggers Sarah and Dianna. When I wrote earlier about the ITB, they urged me (strongly) to get a foam roller to treat the ITB. The roller arrived in the mail this week and with their help, I’ve started working it. Oh my. Does it ever help! Yes, it hurts. And, as Sarah told me “Find the spot where it hurts the worst and leave the roller there for about a minute.” Bingo. That’s the ticket. In just a few days, I’ve seen a lot of improvement. I wouldn’t have done 16 today without it.

I tried one other new thing today that I picked up from several sources. I pushed hard over the last mile. I did the 16th mile in 9:09 today. Not awesome, but the fastest mile of the day and it equates (exactly) to a four-hour marathon. Much of the early part of 2007 will be directed to this end, I’m currently thinking.

Enjoy your weekend.


PS. Links don't seem to be working today on Blogger...sorry.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How to Dress when you Run

ORN: 6.1 miles, 59:59, 9:48/mile

This morning, the folks at
Complete Running Network were kind enough to post an article and spreadsheet I submitted to them recently.

The article,
Dress for Winter Running Success captures a simple system I’ve developed over the years to know EXACTLY what to wear in any temperature from 10F on up. In two degree increments.

Pure geek-ness, I know. But, hey, that’s kind of who I am.

Enjoy. And persevere. In any weather.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


ORN: 8.4 miles, 1:21:15, 9:40/mi

Finally. A longer run. It felt good.

The right knee was OK thorughout. Towards the end, I felt the ITB but never in a painful way. I decided to end the run around 8, rather than going 10, just thinking it prudent. Later in the day, the right leg was tight, but not painful. Ice, stretch, rest, will all work. I'll probably try 6 or so tomorrow.

Interestingly, the leg felt better when I ran on a camber of the road that let me roatate my right foot to the outside, or right. Which fits with an ITB diagnosis. I almost always run on left side of the road, facing traffinc and all. Could that explain why this is on my right leg and not my left?

At the urging of two commentors whom I value, I also ordered a foam roller today for working over the ITB regularly. Ah, the joy of pain...I can hardly wait.

Persevere. On either side of the road.

Friday, November 03, 2006

On the road while on the road

ORN: about 3 miles, 30:10

A few months after I started running in 1978, I bought and devoured the seminal running book of that day, “The Complete Book of Running” by the late Jim Fixx. In a chapter on finding time to run, Fixx told business travelers that there was usually a “down time” between the end of a day’s meetings and the obligatory dinner with associates. Use that time to run, he admonished.

I have no idea why I remember that tidbit from a book I read 28 years ago. Shoot, I can’t even remember how to set the table properly. But I’m in some business meetings in Indianapolis and as the day wound down on Thursday, Fixx’s admonition came to mind and I made it work.

I had noted on the drive in that our hotel was only one block off of the route of the
Indianapolis Marathon & Half-Marathon, which I had run in 2005 but missed this year with my knee problem. It is kind of amazing to me how one can remember a race route though only running it once. So, I decided to do part of that route in the 30 minutes I could scrape up before dinner.

The run felt good. I turned a corner and came to the spot which triggered an
entry on my professional blog I wrote not long after that race on how not to coach. That made me smile. The right knee felt good throughout. I was grateful.

Long run set for Saturday…that’s the next hurdle.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

First Day Back

ORN: 4 miles. No Watch. No Pain.

After my self-imposed seven day layoff (the longest I’ve been off since May 2004), I went out to run this morning, not fully sure what I’d find in my right knee.

Interestingly, there was none of the “runner’s knee” type of pain at all. This pain had literally stopped me on several runs after the marathon on Oct 1. I had no sense of that at all, for which I was very glad.

What I did notice was simply “something” on the outside of the right knee. Not a pain, just a “something.” It really felt much more like an ITB irritation, which I’ve worked through before. It wasn’t close to stopping me and was merely an annoyance. But, I’ll pay attention to it via stretching and massage.

Mentally, it was great to be back out running. I’m always a morning runner and when I went to bed last night, it felt like today was going to be a race day! That sense of excitement and anticipation was there. I woke up about 20 minutes before the alarm was set to go at 5:15…had it been race day, I would have arisen. But this morning I just drifted back for a while longer.

How nuts would any sane person think of this?? Excited to go out in the dark streets with 35 degree temps?? Oh my. I guess that’s why I have a blog.