May 26, 2009

Long overdue update

It really is about time I make an update, isn't it? Won't be tonight. Sorry. I'll try tomorrow.

May 11, 2009

Post-Pig Week 1

Not a terribly busy week. 5 runs, all fairly short, all very easy. Total mileage for the week: 17.9 miles.

Yesterday planned to run several miles, but after 2 laps around the VOA, I decided I just didn't feel like running. Felt a little tired & sluggish, so I decided no big deal. Didn't need to run a ton that week anyway. Maybe even better that I didn't.

This week, would like to get in around 30 miles. I'm also back in the gym, strength training with a real sense of purpose. Focus is still on legs, plus an increased focus on core, and stretching. Updating my public profile on with these workouts too.

Also, hope to get resume out to my recruiter later this week. Thinking about picking up some part time job somewhere, in the meantime, if possible. Don't really want to sit around and just wait to see what happens. I'll go stir-crazy.

May 8, 2009

Oh, bother

I guess tough times, and how we react to them, are what defines people, right? Well, I'm going thru a tough stretch right now, and will be learning a lot about myself in the process.

I started the week with a nice, big, fat DNF at the Flying Pig. As if that wasn't disappointing enough, I'm ending the week unemployed, after having my job eliminated yesterday, due to expense cuts. Gotta say, did NOT see that one coming. While I'm not overly upset about not having that job anymore, I am at least mildly nervous about not having a job anymore. The severance package and accrued vacation time pay helps in the short term, and I'm already actively seeking another gig, so I'm not hitting the panic panic button right now. But damn! What's next? Wait. Whoever it is that listens to these rhetorical questions, and answers them by dealing you the next blow, as if to say, "This is.", please forget I asked. It would be much appreciated.

So now I have some free time. Although, when it's not free time under your own terms, it really takes the enjoyment out of it. LOL. I feel kinda guilty even having it. But I know it's through no fault of my own. Life happens, and this is currently what is happening to me. Since I have no intention of dying in the next few weeks, I'm going to have to deal with it. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I'm off to put down some miles, before the rain shows up.

May 6, 2009

Back in the saddle, again...

So yesterday I get home, and I prepare to replace the heating element in our oven that burned out last week. Open the oven door, go to put it in place, and...they gave me the wrong freakin' part! &*%#%^&%$$&! Oh man, was I pissed off. And to boot, the place is about 25 minutes from my house, and is the ONLY place in all of Cincinnati that sells them. I think I'd have an easier time finding original copies of The Declaration of Independence. So what do I do, when I need to blow off some steam? Yup, I go for a run.

I head upstairs, quickly change clothes, slide on the running shoes, and head out the door. No idea where I'm going to run, or how far, or how fast, or if I'll even be able to. You see, I had this slight pain in my left shin as well as at the top of the foot, right at the ankle. I tried to slowly run on it Monday, but decided against it after about 20 seconds. Yesterday, I start up, and while it hurt mildly at first, within the first minute, it was gone. So I coast around the neighborhood, get back to the house, and call it a day. 2.03 miles. Eh, fine. Whatever. The actual run wasn't the important part. I'd calmed down. And perhaps more importantly, I'd gotten back out there and realized that I really, REALLY enjoy running.

Today, I get to work, and see that it is scheduled to start raining around midday, when I'd planned to go for another short run. So I head downstairs to the fitness room at about 8:45AM, and go for another run. Again, mild pain in left shin/foot. Again, it goes away quickly. I run fairly comfortably. I say fairly b/c near the end of this 3-mile jaunt, I realize I'm running a little harder than I need/want to be. No pain, no issues. I just notice I'm breathing a little harder than I wanted to be. I have no reason to run hard right now. all. So I scolded myself for that, went in, showered, changed, and back to my desk in under a hour's time. Once again, the feeling of running again really helps my spirits. But this time, I also realize how strong my body feels, just 3 days after my fiasco. This pleases me.

So the plan for the remainder of this week is to run somewhere in the range of 15-20 miles, and hit the gym once or twice and workout lightly. After Sunday, I'll re-evaluate where I am, and start planning accordingly. Given my actuarial exam is Monday morning, I suspect I'll go for a nice run that afternoon.

The only thing that could screw these plans up? Going back tonight, and being given the WRONG part for my oven again!

May 4, 2009

The day after.

I've had many friends and family try to console me with kind words since yesterday's debacle. And I hear what they're saying, and I greatly appreciate them, really I do. And in many respects I know they're right. But for me, it was a failure. You can't go through what I've gone through over the last 4 months, have that happen, and not feel like you failed. No matter what I've accomplished since I started all of this back in 2007. I feel no better today than I did yesterday. My motivation right now is at an all-time low. After the race, I wondered if I wanted to ever try this again. Later in the day, I thought I'd decided that I did. That I wouldn't dare go out like that. Today, I'm again not so sure. Part of my brain tells me that I can train smarter, and harder, and longer, and NEVER let this happen again. Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials, right? But at what cost? Not just to me, but to my family? How much is too much? The last thing my wife wants to hear is that I didn't put enough into it, and next time, I plan to be fanatical in my training. She already think I'm fanatical about it! Does an average of 40-some miles a week, for 16 weeks, constitute a fanatic? Not in comparison to a lot of marathon runners. But others have no bearing on me. They make no difference to my situation. So, what do I do from here? I honestly don't know.

And I just can't get over how angry I am. I can't think of anything else right now, and that's really bad b/c I have my exam a week from today. But right now, I just don't give a ****!

I just really hate myself right now.

May 3, 2009

How to break your own heart

Alright, let’s get this over with. Flying Pig Marathon 2009 report...

Woke up at 3AM, no problem. Slept surprisingly well. Came downstairs, had breakfast & coffee. Got ready, left the house at 4:30AM. Downtown at 5AM, head to my office where I finalize my preparation. I feel absolutely great. I’m ready. At 5:45AM, we leave to walk down to the start. Arrive at 6:00. Slightest of drizzles, but nothing to concern myself over. Hang out, get loose, listen to the announcements, talk through my strategy one last time. I find that I’m not overly amped up, which I’m pleased about. I’ve historically had a tendency to start too quickly. I don’t feel like I’ll make that same mistake today.

The gun goes, and so do we. First mile is quite slow, as usual. I’m running nice & easy, just letting the first few miles coast by. We go over the first bridge, through the Kentucky section, and back into Cincinnati. Now we swing back into downtown, and I feel great. We go down 7th Street, towards the hills. The 5.5-mile mark arrives, and I’m just a couple of seconds off race pace through that point. So I’m very happy about that, given the start. Now we get to the 3-mile uphill section of the course. I have to run this with my head, not my heart. I ignore all the runners around me. I focus on maintaining a constant effort level, not race pace. When I finally reach the top, I feel wonderful. I’m proud as can be about how I just ran that section. I ran it perfectly! Now I’m oozing with confidence, and we hit some nice, long, downhill stretches.

I see Susan at around mile 11, I couldn’t look any happier, I couldn’t BE any happier, or any more comfortable. I’m eating up these miles and have easily made up any time I might have dropped during the climb.

I reach the halfway point at 1:51:10. I could not have drawn this up any better. The first half is the tough half, and the course is definitely set-up to run a negative split. At this point in the race, I feel like I haven’t even been running. Everything feels fabulous, I’m confident, and most importantly, I’m running very smoothly. Almost effortlessly. I’m thinking, if I am smart, I got 3:38 well within my grasp.

Then disaster strikes, literally out of nowhere. I get no warning, no sign, no sense of discomfort, nothing. One moment, I’m on top of the world, the next, I’m in a world of trouble. Right when I hit the 14-mile mark, BOTH calves start to spasm, at the same time! I was prepared for all kinds of issues. Blisters, sore feet, upset stomach, etc. I was prepared for everything, EXCEPT for an issue that I have never had!!! Not in the 2+ years I’ve been running since my ACL surgery, not ever, that I can remember. Not even one, little spasm. At this point, I panic. I try to run through it for a second, but realize that is not going to happen. So I stop, and quickly start to massage them, to get them to relax. They do after about 10-15 seconds, and I start running again, but slowly, waiting to see what happens. I seem to be better and pick up the pace a little, hoping it was a one-time issue. I doubt that it is, but I’m grasping at straws here, trying to be hopeful. Then after almost a mile, my calves go crazy again. Now I’m really worried. Again, I stop, massage, and start running. But now, I’m unable to go more than about a ¼-mile without having them “go off”. I literally start watching the insides of my calves as I run, and I can see them spasm as I run. Strong, violent spasms. It’s actually a little disturbing to see. I suddenly look like I have huge “dents” in my calves, when they contract. That scares me.

But I’m stubborn, and I run/walk off-and-on through just short of the 18-mile mark. Occasionally, I have to stop, and massage them as best I can. Plus, if there is ANY upslope at all, I can’t run it w/o them locking up. So, I’m forced to walk those parts.

Then it goes from bad, to worse. At 18-miles, my left calf goes absolutely crazy, and completely locks up. I can’t bear ANY weight on it. None. I stop and grimace in agony as I try to stretch it and get it to release. I spend 5-6 minutes doing everything I can to make it relax before it finally does. But I know I’m done running today. The only way I’ll finish is to walk the final 8.2 miles. So I start walking. Slowly.

As I walk, I start experiencing pain in the front of my left hip. No doubt from having such a compromised gait at this point. I make it to the 22-mile mark. But here is where my attempt ended. I can’t even walk due to the hip pain, and my calves continuing to spasm. I get a courtesy vehicle to pick me up and take me to the finish so I can find Susan.

The results website shows me with a final time, but it’s not correct. I’m a DNF. I couldn’t get to the end of the finishing chute from the outside because the only way to get there was to climb an enormous stairway that took you to a catwalk up & over the finishing area. I took 3 steps up, and knew I couldn’t make it. So I had to backtrack and walk back onto the course, then go through the finish, to get to the end of the chute, and find Susan. So my chip actually recorded a time. I’ve e-mailed race officials, and asked them to properly give me a DNF. I didn’t make it, and I don’t think it’s fair to make it look like I did. Since I missed the 25.2-mile checkpoint, I imagine they’ll DQ me once they see it. They tried to give me a finisher’s medal (since they had no idea what happened), but I refused it, and walked right by them, apologizing for seeming so gruff about it.

I can’t even begin to describe my disappointment, my frustration, or my anger over this. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more disappointed in myself as I am today. The days before the race, things were going perfectly. Today, everything started perfectly, the race was going perfectly through the halfway-point, and then it all fell through in a matter of seconds. Now I’m left to deal with everything going on in my head, and try to answer the questions, “Why?” and “How?” No easy task, let me tell you. I think I did everything right. Trained right, ate right, slept right. Everything. Which is why I cannot explain what happened. I honestly have no idea. I thought perhaps I hadn’t had enough electrolyte drink during race week. But when I look back, I feel sure I did. Easily. So now I am at a total loss.

Tomorrow, I plan to call a sports, physical therapist, friend of mine, and talk through what happened. Maybe he’ll have some answers. I hope so. I don’t want to fail again. I won’t be able to take that.

May 2, 2009

Ready to go!

Ran 2 miles this morning, and felt absolutely great. Shoes felt great, feet feel great, I feel really energized after sleeping about 10.5-11 hours last night. Really counted on that, in case I can't sleep tonight. And despite all the eating & hydrating I've been doing the last few days (I can't believe how much food I've put down since Wednesday), I've only put on 2.4 pounds since Monday, as of this morning. I've actually had to force myself to eat as much as is recommended in the days before the race. But so far, so good. I've stayed within the 1-3 pounds they said I'd gain while carbo loading.

Just had my final big meal. Penne with my own marinara, added some red onions & grilled chicken. Tonight, I'll eat lightly, continuing to drink plenty of fluids.

At about 5PM, I'll be popping in my DVD "Spirit of the Marathon", looking for any inspiration I can get. Got it for Christmas, and I've been DYING to watch it since. But I've purposely held off until this weekend.

After the movie, I'll head to bed, which means I have to miss the Bulls/Celts game. Damn. Plan to DVR it, might watch it after the race. I doubt I'll hear the result before then.

Well, that's it. I'm ready.

May 1, 2009

Less than 48 hours away

Yeah, I can definitely feel the anxiety & doubt building up. Just gonna try and get through the next 2 days.

Going to the expo today, to pick up my race packet, and tool around a little. I always enjoy going to the expos. Lots of fun, lots to see. After that, I wanted to mow the back yard today. Rain making that unlikely. Will I mow it tomorrow? Didn't want to, but might have to. Rain + cool weather + grass = long f****** grass! before the race.

Although, I might not even really be able to tomorrow. More rain in the forecast, including for Sunday morning. I just hope it isn't heavy rain. Wet socks and shoes may lead to blisters, which would be a disaster. At least the temps look like they'll be right around 50 most of the morning.

That's it for now. Off to find some carbs to eat. =)