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Let’s go have a smoke…

Lately I can’t tell if I just walked past someone smoking or if it’s just the smell of the state of Montana on fire.

Tomorrow is the Two Bear Marathon. A few weeks ago I made a decision to switch to the half marathon. It turned out to be wise for more than my original reason.

I had originally switched to the half because my pelvis and SI injury from the winter was still giving me some problems. It’s made a lot of progress, but laying off the mileage has really helped.

However, I feel very undertrained for this race because I’ve been unable to get much running done the past few weeks due to the severe smoke and very dangerous air quality in the Missoula area. Local fires have produced so much smoke that it looks like fog has rolled into our valley.

I’m in my hotel room in Whitefish right now. There is smoke in the air but not nearly as much as is south of us. And the locals say the morning should be pretty clear.

Im excited to race with my new hydration pack. And I bought a new long sleeve tech shirt for the race (at least for the start line). My goal is to keep to my 10:1 run:walk ratio. Do that 13 times and I should be done.

It should be a beautiful course too. A little hilly, but a net decrease in elevation! Woohoo.

Backsliding, Challenges, and Consistency

It’s been a while. I’ve only been running off and on. In addition to a scheduled bicycle respite in which the A-man and I enjoyed a week by bicycle and bike trailer, completely self-contained. 

After the Idaho Falls Half, I continued running, but unfortunately, the aching in the upper attachment of my hamstring continued to get worse and not better. Diagnosis? Upper hamstring tendinitis. I think I’d almost rather have PF than this, but let’s not ask for trouble. I went back to the physical therapist, practically bawling. It was a different therapist and so I, again, got a totally different story. No simple strengthening exercises that don’t do anything this time. She worked with me on my walking and running gait, and I must say, this stuff is working. Walking is almost painless now, and running is getting there. And I don’t have residual pain after running. 

While I was enjoying some time off and the world of bicycle touring, I picked up a pack of cigarettes. After about a week of that, I put them down, but the withdrawal and weakening of my lung span is evident. I’m trying not to overtax myself running during this withdrawal period because it actually makes the withdrawal worse. Another day and it won’t be so bad. Yeah, smoking is bad, but so are lots of things. I won’t judge myself because that down that road lies only destruction. 

I have a half marathon in two weeks, and it will be my goal just to complete it. I will definitely be a running tourist. Taking lots of pictures, etc, while just taking it nice and slow. This season has been pretty crummy for me. I look forward to closing it out with this last half and then just working on my base mileage for awhile and getting down to a prime running weight – I think somewhere around 140 would be good for me (and I hope that means I’d be faster too). And building consistency. It’s funny, for someone who loves routine, if you get caught in a bad routine or a routine of inactivity then you have to break that routine and build a new one. I guess that’s where I’m at. 

I guess this post was a little depressing. But that’s where I’m at. Digging out, still, of the hole of injury and a poor race season. 

Doubt & Expectation

My last half marathon was in Idaho Falls almost two weeks ago now. Following that half, I was supposed to dive into building up mileage for the full marathon in Whitefish in the fall. I’ve done about 5 runs since Idaho Falls, and they’ve all been under 6 miles.

I’ve skipped two long runs now, and I’m getting behind in my mileage build up. At this point, I can still build up my mileage but the only expectation I could have would be to finish the full marathon, not to enjoy it or improve my ability to run it.

I’m having some weird athlete’s psychological problem with doubting myself. I have run so many miles in my short return to running, yet lately I’ve feared running — feared the pain, feared dehydration, feared injury. The doubt is ruining my ability to run and the joy and stress relief I receive from running.

I think the doubt stems from putting such a large expectation on myself (the Two Bear Marathon in Whitefish) without the proper time to prepare for it. And having done two marathons that I had to finish out of pure will, I don’t think I could do it again. Not like that.

I’m not cracking under the pressure; I’m just shutting down entirely.

I had serious goals for improving my speed and endurance this season. But I largely forget that I’m coming back from some serious injuries and that it’s impressive I managed two half marathons already this season at the pace I’ve managed.

So many people try to convince me to just stick to half marathons because ‘oh, it’s just as challenging as a full’ (NOT!) or ‘it’s a good distance’ (whatever). I don’t mean to knock the half marathon, it has it’s own challenges, but it’s just not my distance. I crave the full marathon like I crave conquering mountains on my bike. A few people I know, when discussing marathons, always try to tell me, ‘oh, well, I like doing the half because it doesn’t wipe me out’ and then they insinuate that even though they never have done a full, they could if they wanted to, you know, just like snapping their fingers. And I just nod and raise my eyebrows, because a half is nothing like a full and those that would compare them are completely ignorant. Just the commitment for training between the two is enormously different! Not to mention all the race prep.

All this is to say that I want to run another full marathon. Then another. Then another. Halves are just speed exercises to get me there.

And back to the point, if I really want to reach my goals in the full, maybe it would behoove myself to back off the mileage and enjoy improving my pace and endurance this summer and fall, and find a full in the winter or spring to race.

I’ve got to find a way to relieve the pressure though, or I’ll never run again.

Hunger Strike(s)!

So if you’re a marathon runner, you know all about this, or should.

Yesterday I ran 10 miles, and walked another half mile. Yesterday, wasn’t so hungry. Today? Starved. Want to run home and gorge myself on everything in my house. I’m starving and nothing will squelch my hunger.

I’ve never quite been able to figure it out. Yes, I understand I’m burning more, metabolism increasing, etc. But why always the day after the long run do I feel like I’ve never seen food in my life?

I typically don’t run the day after my long run–my legs usually need to recover. But I do ride my bike to work and home and take my dog on a few walks every day regardless of running schedule, so that should help curb the metabolism rev from hell, but it doesn’t.

And always by Tuesday I’m back to normal.

The hardest thing about the hunger strike is keeping myself from eating junk food, which so often happens and then negates all the calories I burned during the long run the day before. I don’t mind the hunger strike, but it always appears that I run out of healthy food.

So excuse me if I look at everyone and everything like a piece of meat today. I’ve got food seriously on my mind.

Anyone else experience the hunger strike?

Breaking news: Video of Missoula Marathon Finish

I’m the one who is sprinting to the finish, passing people and then doing the V for victory arm race as I run under the Finish banner.

Running Uphill

With another half marathon around the corner and the need to begin working on my ‘climbing’ skills for the Two Bear Marathon, Astro and I took to the M Trail today and ran up every other steep switchback. The total elevation gain was around 800 feet.
I was happily surprised that, although, yes, it was hard, I could actually run up the trail. I can see that in a few weeks I could make it running up the whole trail instead of every other switchback. I’m curious to see how it affects my flat ground (or even just not hideously steep ground) running.

Of course, I am icing my calves tonight as a result, but running up the side of a mountain will do that to you.

We’ll see if there’s any benefit during tomorrow’s 5 miler.


Missoula Half Marathon Race Report

After the perspective a few days will give to any endeavor, I’m ready to give my Missoula 13.1 Race Report.

After a wonderful 5k experience the morning before, I was a little worried how my legs were going to be holding up come Sunday morning. I was a little sore, and did feel the effects of the 5k about halfway through the race, but I still finished strong.

I awoke at 3am after preparing everything I’d need for race day the night before. Hopped on my bike and, ringing my bell furiously all the way to scare of bears and deer, headed for downtown Missoula to pick up the shuttle to the race start on Blue Mountain. I arrived as early as I could handle, with about 45 minutes to sit around and wait for the race start. I practiced my race pace a bit. Used the port-a-potties numerous times (I always freak out that I’ll have to go in the middle of the race and end up waiting in some port-a-potty line while minutes tick by and my pace goes down the tubes).

Finally it was time to go. The race organizers forgot the “READY, SET, GO!” and the cannon went BOOM and we went off. The first 5 miles or so are pretty much all downhill, with very slight inclines between the downhill portions. Thanks to the downhill, up until mile 9 I was (AMAZINGLY) set to finish in almost exactly 2 hours. That would have been about a 9:53 mile pace, and I was going faster then that. Then, the prior day’s 5k started to wear on me. I could feel my left hamstring making the old familiar “I’m unhappy” twinges. But I dug deep and decided to focus on my pace and cadence and stick to my plan–walk all the aid stations. My pace slowed a bit, but I finished exactly as I had planned. I was shooting for somewhere between 2:10 and 2:20, and I finished in 2:12:28 with a 10:07 race pace. And because I laid back a little bit at the end, I finished the race with plenty left in the gas tank.

I usually sprint the last half mile to mile, full out at a 5:15 or less mile pace. But for some reason, maybe because I didn’t realize it was about to be over, I didn’t get my sprint into gear until the last quarter mile. It’s okay though, no regrets, a great race, a great time had, and I feel super strong from it.

After a couple of days recovery I’m back into training and getting ready for the next race and the road to marathon success. Next up is the Idaho Falls Half Marathon in two weeks, where I’m hoping to PR and sub 2 hour thanks to a super fast course (straight downhill for 6 miles then perfectly flat for the rest…are you kidding?!). Then I’ll continue increasing my mileage as I prep for the Two Bear Marathon. I am considering, and it will depend on other vacation plans, doing the Pocatella Marathon a few weeks before the Two Bear as a training run. Two Bear is going to be so brutal, Pocatella might be a good prep for all that elevation gain… but we shall see.

That’s all for now. My stats weren’t anything to report about, I was basically at the beginning of the middle of the pack, at the end of the first 1/3 of all the finishers. I’m happy with that.