Sunday, February 5, 2012

Taper Time

Taper Thoughts
A week before running Boston, I was swimming in the pool with the kids and screwing around with them.  I went to pick up one of the kids and throw him when I could feel a sharp pain in my groin area.  It felt like I had torn something.  I got out of the pool and thought maybe it wasn't so bad.  I could just take it easy for the next week, run Boston, and then I would be ok.

Boston went pretty well, but was one of my slowest marathons in a while, but still a very respectable time of 3:27.  With my birthday coming up and going into the next age group, I had a time which was 3 minutes faster than the qualifying time.  Another big accomplishment that day, was stopping the slide in my pace and hanging on when I realized I could still finish under 3:30.  I realized this sometime around mile 20 or 21 and it got me through to the end without a major slow down.  The new goal was what got me through.

The next month I tried to slowly build back up but the progress seemed to be going backward.  I would take more and more time off but the pain was beginning to grow in intensity and spread.   It was time to quit for a while.

I did a lot of walking during the week and did some longer bike rides.  The dog got better about being on the leash and stopped freaking out each time he saw another dog.  It wasn't so bad, although I did miss running and I felt like there was a chance I might not recover enough to ever be able to run like I did again.  One possibility was that it was a tear in the hip's labrum.  Unless these are very mild, they don't heal, and surgery is hit or miss.  My running future was uncertain.

On August 1st, I had the kids with me to visit upstate New York for my parents 50th anniversary.  I was staying with my brother and my other brother was visiting.  We went for a run, they were going to do about 5 miles.  I turned back a little past a mile.

I went to a doctor and a physical therapist.   My symptoms were vague enough that it was hard to diagnose the problem.   So, I started to run some more to try and aggravate the problems so they would become more apparent.  The physical therapist was able to work with me and I started adding some more runs in.  It was the usual story - weak core, lack of flexibility.  It's what runners usually hear when they end up at the PT.  If you have a flat stomach and even 6 pack abs, the only thing that tells you for certain is that body fat percentage is low.  It does not mean a strong core.  So, I had to work on getting a strong core.

Around the same time as Boston, Jenny had started teaching a boot camp style class.  I would go to it twice a week.  Lateral movement type exercises and certain core work exercises were very difficult.  For example, I could hold a plank very well, but bicycle crunches and side plank with a leg raise were extremely difficult and painful.  Between the boot camp and working with the PT, the running became pain free and I started to feel what it was like to no longer have a weak core - at least a more balanced one.

The running mileage improved as well as the speed in races.  I had shifted some of my attitudes about running although outwardly it pretty much looked the same as I've always been.  Running 6 days a week.

Ramping back up made running seem fresh again, it felt new.

As the weeks and months have gone by it is starting to feel like entering into a new phase.  With a prescribed distance each weekend to prepare for an upcoming race you lose a bit of that feeling of running completely just for fun and by feel.   In the framework of a schedule though you can still have fun.  Still enjoy many things about it.  But, there is that schedule in the back of your mind.  I guess it is a tradeoff.

Anyway, the schedule is pretty much done now.  I just need to take it easy and not get hurt and fix up any minor dings.  A little bit of hip pain snuck back up after the big run on 12/24.  It has gotten a little better but not gone away.  I will try and make that go away in the next two weeks.

Jenny asked me yesterday if I was excited for the race.  I'm not sure if I am or not.  It is exciting to do something new like that, but it is a different kind of feeling than getting ready to run something like a 5K that I've trained for and have a specific time goal in mind.  I'm not worried or anxious.  I'm intrigued.  I'm being introspective and I'm getting to the practical parts like which things to bring with me and have in my drop bag, what to wear and contingencies for things that might go wrong.  Sometime around one or two days before the race I'll probably get a certain amount of race stress or anxiety which is normal.

Thursday's Tempo Run

Last Thursday I ran 7 miles, with 3 miles at a pace faster than 7:00 minutes/mile, so I had planned on doing about the same pace this week except adding another mile for 4 miles.  On Wednesday night, my friend Raj texted me and asked if I'd join him on his tempo run - he wanted to do 6 miles total with 3 miles at a 6:35 pace.  It was faster than I had planned and a little shorter but I thought the change of plans and running with a friend was worth it.  He had forgotten is garmin, so I told him to wear mine and set the pace.  It was difficult but I ended up running 6:32, 6:32 and 6:32.  Actually the last mile he was at 6:21 and I guessed I was about 10 or 11 seconds behind him.  I think this was the first tempo run I've done where not wearing a watch so I could check the pace frequently as well as the distance.  Instead, it was just running by feel and keeping up with my partner.

Saturday's Run

18 mi, 02:40 08:52 pace
Great run overall today. Started with a small group at Longleaf. Felt sluggish and lagging behind first couple miles.

Stopped at Diane's lemonade stand, then into Starkey. Eudair and I split off and got onto trails via horse corral. Out to power lines then south for one mile. Beautiful morning as it was getting light. It felt like forever since being on this section of trails. Good to be back. Left the park then picked it up the last few miles.

The last 4.5 miles were heading south along the Starkey Blvd. bike trail, back on the pavement, and in the homestretch of the last scheduled long run (last week's run was the last scheduled BIG run).

Efficient run with minimum time stopping today.  So, I was able to get back home a little bit earlier than normal.  Jenny had offered to take Thomas bowling and could stay there until about 9:30, so that took the pressure off me to rush my run.

So, although this was an efficient run, there was no pressure to be efficient so I enjoyed the entire run - except perhaps a little at the beginning when my ankles felt tight, especially the left one.  But, I knew that feeling would pass and I would enter into the long run magic zone.

I have been getting a little bit of schedule wear lately.  By that I mean the schedule has been wearing on me.  I've tried to keep the schedule as loose as possible with just an approximate mileage goal for the week and a weekend long run.  Now, the race is in just two weeks, so I'll just concentrate on not concentrating, cut back and run when I feel like it.


  1. Well, it sounds like you are ready. Hopefully taper doesn't drive you crazy!

    1. Thanks Amy! Not a problem this time around, at least not so far. I'm ready to take on what I find.

  2. I'm glad you feel good for the next challenge! You're ready, Mark!