#54: Life on the run can’t always be glamorous

What wild week it’s been:  

It started on Monday with a visit by Marshall Ulrich, endurance machine, to BaseCamp31 to talk about some of his adventures, run with a few of us and sign some copies of his book “Running on Empty” for those in attendance.  For most folks running from coast to coast or achieving the “7 summits” (mountaineering) or competing in ALL of the eco-challenges just sounds crazy…..but to me it was inspiring.  The guy is not only a very accomplished athlete, he is a cool person, often raising money for good causes while fighting battles against personal demons on the adventure-trail.  It was a great connection for all of us.  I was able to sneak a 7 miler in before that event and then the 3-ish I ran with the team who went out with Marsh, I was happy to get in 10 on Monday……20+% done with my mileage goal for the week…..cool.

Tuesday was a bust from a training perspective…..too much going on work-wise to fit in any training……

Wednesday was….well…..an awakening, of the worst kind.  I was able to plan my day in such a way to line up my first “race-simulation”, a 22-mile flat and (fingers crossed) fast, course.  There’s a lot to tell….so here’s the short short version:  It started with a little hitch in my step, the cranky R hip was there…..but (like an idiot) I was determined to ignore it and get my run in.  As I got to the 1/2 point, I was tired, but not more than I expected, and my pace was a little better than I expected.  Usually by now, the hip has loosened and “let go”….not this time.  Oh well…..if it hung on like this, I’d be stiff, but fine…..so on I pressed.  By mile 12, it was starting to hurt…..but hey, there’s bound to be some pain involved right?  B/t mile 12 and 13 that pain went from there to stabbing and pretty much shutting me down.  It was intense and my entire R leg was feeling it somewhat.  I debated with myself and with 30 days out from race still, decided there was very little value in a “push-through” attempt and so I did the 3 mile walk of shame back to my car.  In general, I feel like this shouldn’t happen to me.  I know enough to recognize body-issues arising (after all I do this for a living) and deal with them appropriately.  

So after limping back to the car, it was time to put my wife to work.  Must be that Northern European descent, b/c with a little coaching “Olga the masseur” was really able to find those tender points and “massage” (I use this term loosely b/c there are very few massage techniques that are designed to have lightning shoot from your eyes)…..but who’s complaining…..it worked like a charm…and it provide some entertainment for the evening (for Lindsay).  

After a little stretch & strength based-rehab session on Thursday, I was ready to roll.  The pain btw was because I failed to take my own advice a few months back and maintain my flexibility……and I’ve not shut down long enough to heal……Dumb-ass.

Friday I gave the hip a test and did a +/- 6mile tempo run.  It was solid and I was glad to be back in the game.

Saturday I decided to head North to meet a few gents from a client site who had invited me to tag-along on their annual “Ride through the Catskills”.  The title (they told me) was a misnomer b/c it was really a ride through the “foothills” of the Catskills.  Hmm…..a 40+ mile ride with a lot of climbing on a very cold part of the season……sounds dreadful….I’m in.  So with Lindsay handling kid coverage for the better part of the day, I went and rode the “foothills”……as it turned out, there were a few steep sections and on SERIOUS climb of about 1300 feet over 4.5 miles (in cycling they categorize their climbs with 4 being the easiest and 1 being the hardest, based on the definitions, this would have been either a LONG category 3 or a category 2)….it was the real deal and I had to work hard.  Since every major climb has a name and this one was without, I decided to name it “Gary’s Scary Lung-buster”.  My fitness was generally up to it (all the running was a bonus for sure), but not having done it before and therefore not quite knowing when it would end made it a challenge…..that and the 10-15 mph headwind.  A nice touch…..all-in-all it was a really fun ride with a good variety of athletes/ages/abilities, which to me always makes it fun.  There was a 15 year old who worked hard to claim the “finishers” title (I suspect he took a nap when he got home), the 50+ year old who calls the course “home” and organized and the 30-40 something stud who gave the rest of us a chance and road a fixed/single-speed (i.e. no gears, despite crazy hills) mountain bike…..and still out climbed the group…..impressive.  But the best part was it was a relaxed and humble group…..refreshing as there are so many snooty cyclists out there…..If I don’t have any major conflicts next year, I’ll be there again.

Which brings me to today:  In order to make my run-mile goal of minimum 45, (I was at 26, I would need 19 miles today).  Not that I get too caught up in having by-the-book training, especially getting the solid cross-training fitness-session on the bike, but I did want to get some add’l miles in to keep nudging the hip since I had to bag on Wed so badly.  The only trick was it was another kid-chasing weekend with my wife heading to a baby shower and me having to juggle a Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party (whoa buddy!) and a soccer game for kid #1.  I decided the only way to pull it off was to do a double session.  7 in the AM and up to 13 in the PM.  The 7 started a little stiff, but I loosened up and felt good…..no ill after-effects, a good sign.  Then after a crazy-exciting soccer game (I had NO IDEA U-10 soccer could be so exciting) that ended in a 1-1 draw, I geared back up (including goofy reflector vest, goofier headlamp and some goofiest? bright white compression socks) and hit the road.  I started (as planned) quite easy over the first 3 miles and slowly picked it up over the next 4.  The next 2 were quite hilly and then just kept my pace steady for 3 more and wrapped up at 12, pretty tired.

All-said, it was a solid training week and besides the little nagging thought in the back of my mind (“what if the hip doesn’t hold up on race day?”), I’m feeling pretty good about things.  I got 45-ish running miles in and 45-ish cycling miles and as I sit here, the hip is sore but not terrible.  I’ll stretch it before bed and tomorrow AM will tell me a lot. And so, I enter the last couple training weeks before taper/peak-weeks and then…..race.

But enough of this nonsense…..bring on the nonsense

OK….remember, you asked for it.  I think I would be remiss if I did not share two incredibly motivational quotes that found their way to me; one on the backside of my Magic Hat #9 bottlecap (and one from Linds’ cap):

The first is something I think we can all agree on:  Sharp Cats Wear Cool Hats – There’s so much truth there….they do.

The second I thought was pretty funny…..albeit a bit crude:  
Condoms prevent Mini-vans. OK, crude……but funny.

I think you’ve had enough for now.  Hoping for a pain free week around the bend,

Mike E.