Monday, October 31, 2011

Could it Really be This Simple?

No, I don't mean as simple as trying to look like Roy Heger. I mean as simple as watching my weight. But since I mentioned (and included a photo looking like Roy, I suppose I ought to say a little more about that.

I stood in for Roy so that he could run his own Run with Scissors race this year. Debbie, with encouragement from Shannon, decided to dress me up like Roy for the occasion. It was quite a hit for the race.

This came a day after Debbie had dressed me up like Lady Godiva for Connie's Halloween party. Yes, that was quite a hit too. And no, I'm not afraid to do anything these days.

Back to weight watching. A few weeks ago Debbie and I got back on the Weight Watchers diet. Now I've lost six or so pounds, and I'm feeling great! The PF still hasn't gone away entirely, but it's much better. And so are all the other little injuries I'd been plagued with lately.

Now I've got to get into shape for this Sunday's Inland Trail Marathon. In fact, I did lose quite a lot of fitness since June. It won't be back by Sunday, but at least (I think) I'm back on the upswing.

My theory is that putting less weight on these old joints for seventy miles per week makes a huge difference in regards to injuries large and small. Could it have been this simple?

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Race to the Death

Author's note. This went into the latest MCRR Newsletter. I haven't been doing much actual racing lately, but it's good to think of these things now and then.

Have you ever had a Race to the Death? You know, a race where you're near the finish, and A) you are simply *not* going to let this runner coming up from behind pass you, or B) you are going to catch and pass that runner ahead of you before the finish, no matter what. *That's* a Race to the Death; you're going to beat that other runner, even if it kills you.

What's that? You mean you *haven't* had a Race to the Death? Actually, I haven't had all that many myself. I'm so well spent by the end of most races of any length, to care much whether I'm able to pass or hold anyone off. You can just call me, "Kickless Dan".

Having said that, I actually have had a couple (only a couple) memorable moments. Once as part of a relay in Michigan I had a sandy trail leg. I was being stalked by an Ohio guy who was even older than I. I ran faster and faster, trying to hold him off, but he kept pace. Finally the single track opened up to a two-track trail for the final mile and a half. He pulled up even, but I simply was not going to let him pass. We sprinted to the finish in what I'd call a tie. After we both collapsed at the exchange, we talked and over the years have became friends.

Some of you may know Joe Salwan. He's in my age group, and we've had a pretty good rivalry over the years. It all began at the 2000 Buckeye Half Marathon, where I passed him with a mile to go, but then, after some back and forth battling, he passed my in the final tenth of a mile in a final mad sprint to the finish. Yeah, he got me... that time.

Mayor Ladd Clifford usually beats me by exactly one minute. Whether it's 5K or 50K, Ladd gets me by that same amount. At one particular 50K we'd run most of the way together and I thought I could at least tie him when, with a mile to go he learned that he had the opportunity to catch Charles Elkins before the end of his 3rd (of four) loop, so he took off. Ladd not only beat me by a minute (again), but managed to catch Charles before he began his final lap - something we'd both promised not to do. So at that point he had two of us mad at him. I still haven't forgotten.

And then there's Dan vs Connie. To the best of my knowledge, the *only* times I've ever been able to beat Connie is when she is racing a week after a race of 100 or more miles. Competitive as she is, she still doesn't like getting beat, especially by the likes of me. So naturally I had to say some smart remark as I passed her near the end of a 5K after she'd run a 100-miler the previous weekend. The same thing happened on the brick road at the finish of the Twin Sizzler - smart remark from me, and Connie had done Western States just a few days earlier. The best one came at the Akron Marathon, a week after she'd run 141 miles at NC24. I passed her as she stopped at an aid station for some water (at about mile 20). "Don't you know how to run and drink at the same time?" I asked as I went by. We had recently practiced just such a thing. I managed to get a really mean look out of her that time. Never mind that Connie has absolutely killed me on other occasions (when she *hadn't* run 100+ the previous week); I got her those times, and she ain't getting them back.

Are you a runner or a racer? The experiences noted above to the contrary, I'm probably more of a runner myself. But I do love racing, and I love rivalries. I even love my rivals. They are what make it all so much fun, and most are my friends and MCRR members. Without them, what's the point in racing?

Most of all, I love a good Race to the Death.

Okay, I'm Going to Run Inland Trail No Matter What

There was this story about the great Finnish Runner, Lasse Viren. In the 1972 Olympic 10,000, he and two other top runners got tangled up and fell. They say you could see it in their eyes: two of the guys became dejected because they realized that now they wouldn't be able to win. They thought they might be able to win if everything went right for them, and it hadn't. Viren had a different look: he was thinking about *how* he was going to win now. He'd gone into the race thinking that he was going to win no matter what. Viren won, and set a world record in the process.

So, still fighting these injuries, and still wondering what bad thing could be next, I'm going to run the Inland Trail Marathon November 6.

More on racing in my next post.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Question I'm Afraid to Ask

Up and out of bed at 3:45am, I don't actually get out the door until 5:30. That's par these days. It just seems to take that coffee longer and longer to begin to achieve the desired affect.

In order to run fast, you've got to start fast, according to Michigan runner Terry Elsey. Although this concept can be taken too far, and it's always good to finish strong, Terry nevertheless has a point. The days I start really slow, I quite often manage to simply stay slow. Today I start relatively fast. The PF has generally gotten better, although it's still not 100%. As I've tried to pick things back up again, I seem to have acquired some other new aches and pains, including a very tight right hamstring (the PF is in my left foot).

Tired of feeling weak and slow, I've been losing weight (finally working with Debbie following, loosely, the Weight Watchers plan). I've also been minding my strength and other training. Using the new hang bar is a good thing. My mileage is back up to 70 per week, and I've been picking up the pace. Just a bit.

It's been obvious to me that I need to work on this intensity stuff, and so I have. I did one interval session on the mill early last week, and then a long run on Friday. Saturday I tried some gentle speedwork, and that's when I noticed the tight ham for the first time.

Today I fail my attempt at a tempo run (during miles 2-4). My definition of tempo has always been and is still three consecutive miles under seven minutes without a stop. My time for these miles is 22:07, but I'm not too discouraged. I'm still in the midst of my comeback, I tell myself. It will take time to come all the way back.

I forge on, moving slower and slower as I go. Even so, it feels like I'm running fast. I finish the 11-mile route in 1:33. That's also about par these days, but it should've been faster considering the tempo attempt.

As I'm approaching the house, I see Rita coming my way. I decide to turn and run back out with her a while - I wanted to get a couple more miles in anyway. Rita is telling me about her daughter's wedding and her own injury problems. I'm listening intently, when my foot catches something and I yell out, "Yeow!". It's that darn tight hamstring, and now it's suddenly a full-blown pull.

I hobble back home, which luckily isn't too far.

Now I fear that I had better call it quits for the year. I'd been considering three races: Inland Trail Marathon, the Fall Classic Half, and the Buckeye Woods 50K. They're generally all in jeopardy now, especially the first two.

The question I'm afraid to ask? Okay, here goes: "What more can go wrong?"

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Turning the Corner

Have I gotten out of the downward spiral? Is my running finally improving once again? It's hard to say. I am certain that I'm not where I was a year, or even six months ago. But maybe... just maybe, I'm better than I was a month ago. In addition to training a bit harder once again, I've also lost a few pounds. That never hurts.

The PF is still there. I'm trying hard to simply keep it from getting any worse. I believe that I may be succeeding, at least in that effort. I still believe that that's the main culprit in my loss of fitness since Mohican. I'm just getting tired of excuses.

And I'm tired of not racing. All my friends are doing Chicago, Towpath, Columbus, etc., and here I am, marathon-less. Who knows? Maybe I'll still think about Inland Trail in November. Stranger things have happened.

Hinckley is Back

Okay, okay. Hinckley never really left. But a lot of us did; we hadn't been meeting there for our Sunday morning runs for quite some tim...