Monday, June 23, 2014

My Toe is Better Now and I'm in Boston

I got clearance from the physical therapist to run again after I mashed my toe. And run I did. I had a lot of pent up running to do after I got the "all clear". I ripped off a few short runs before a 13 miler on Sunday. I had a lot of flexibility and was able to easily pull off a casual 1:36 without breaking too much of a sweat. It was a most excellent comeback from my "toeper". The pain in my toe diminshes by the day.

This week I'm in Boston on business.  So this morning, I headed out to the Charles River for a spectacular 5 miler to start the day.
Me, a rower and the Citgo Sign
Me and a crew team
After a non-descript morning/afternoon in the office, me and a co-worker (who is running the Chicago Marathon this fall) headed out for another 5 miler in order to soak up the late afternoon sun along the Charles River trail:

Late afternoon sun and the Charles River
After taking a shower, we headed out for dinner. I ate a 2 lb. lobster and some clam chowder at Legal Seafood . For a night cap we headed over to a certain special pub across the river:
The place where everybody knows my name
Anyway, it is great to be back in Boston and especially great to be running again. I am fully commited to focusing on getting in marathon shape and cranking out some serious miles over the next 14 weeks or so so I can perhaps set a course record in my 4th attempt at the greatest marathon in the Midwest!

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Toeper" Madness

Thursday night during yoga class, I was daydreaming. I was mentally preparing my race strategy for my 5k on Saturday, when all of a sudden, I absentmindedly slammed my right "ring finger" toe into a hard cork block and heard a "pop" sound when it hit. The pain wasn't too bad, but the pop definitely scared me. I finished the class and iced it when I got home.  The next morning the toe was painful, swollen and blood was pooling under the toenail (I will spare you pictures of it). So naturally, like any rational person would do, I googled "broken toe" and saw pictures and read about symptoms of broken toes that looked and sounded a lot like my toe. I also read that broken toes could sometimes take eight to 10 weeks to heal. So, I was going to head on over the ER in the afternoon to get an x-ray and prepare myself for the bad news that I would have to sit in "injury jail" for several weeks. I was in a funk as I was just starting to feel like my "base building" phase was over and I could start marathon training with some serious speed work.

Then I remembered that I had a physical therapy session that afternoon, so I figured I would get the therapist to look at the toe instead of waiting for a few hours for an ER doctor. Once at PT, my physical therapist took out a tuning fork and did some vibration tests on the toe. She quickly determined that the toe was not broken! A wave of relief flooded over me. However she said that I needed to take a few days off for the pain and swelling to subside. Naturally that means I had to DNS my 5k on Saturday, but it was the best prognosis I could have hoped for!

Presently, I am chomping at the bit, anxiously awaiting my return to running. It's like I am tapering for a marathon. My legs are super well rested and I have been getting more sleep than ever. Everything is lining up for a great "restart" to running, I just have to wait for my stupid toe to feel better. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Michelob Ultra 13.1 Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Last year's version of the 13.1 Marathon was one of my favorite races of 2013. The weather was picture perfect, I won a free entry and set a course record of 1:34:54. How would the 2014 version unfold?
2013 13.1 Marathon
Credit Xaarlin
I did indeed, win another free entry this year, but let's start things off with the condition of my legs this morning.

My Legs:
My legs have never been so trashed the morning of a race. Two days ago, I played softball for an entire afternoon and when I woke up yesterday, I could barely walk. Hips, quads, and hamstrings were all shredded.  Yes, it is hard to believe that playing a couple of softball games was my pre-race kryptonite, but it's true. I learned my lesson, however: Never ever play any other sports during a race week, no matter how "easy" that sport may seem. Anyway, despite feeling as stiff as a board, I was still going to run, walk or crawl this race.

Pre Race:
At 4:45 am, my alarm went off.  I was hungry when I woke up so I ate half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana and coffee. I walked my dog, then jumped in the car and headed down to the Museum of Science and Industry to catch a shuttle to the starting line. I found a free street spot only two blocks from shuttle bus pickup area, and got right on a bus and 10 minutes later, was at the South Shore Cultural Center.
View from the front seat of the shuttle bus

Sitting on the bus

I bumped into Emily who I need to thank for the free entry. Thanks Emily! She was holding court with several friends by the general bag check at around 6:30am. While we were chatting, I popped an aspirin for good measure, hoping it would ease my leg soreness. Anyway, we got a picture on Emily's camera:
Me, Zenaida, Adele, Amy and Emily hanging before the race (source)
Next, I checked my backpack. Well, rather, I had to dump the contents of the backpack into a clear bag and then stuff my backpack into the clear bag. How this helps with security, I don't really know. I saw Lynton, a fellow Bootlegger as he was making his way to the "A" corral. I got in the "B" corral and saw Erica and her friend. We chatted awhile about things including the always fascinating "I Beat You Guy". The national anthem was sung and 2.5 minutes after the "A" corral left, we were off!

Race Strategy:
Last month, after running a 1:29 in Indy, I had bold plans for a 1:28 at today's 13.1. However, given my ripped up legs and hips that wasn't gonna happen. I decided to start slowly and see how my legs felt. If they did not give out on me early, I would gradually up the pace. A course record (sub 1:34:54) would be all I could hope for.

The Race:
Miles 1 to 3:
I asked Erica if I could hang with her for the first couple of miles, since both she and I were targeting about a 7:25/mile pace for the first couple of miles. We ran along the road in front of the South Shore Cultural center, then through a nice shady stretch of Jackson park. After mile 2, I said my goodbyes to Erica and soon I ran by this big, golden statue in Jackson Park:

Statue of the Republic
My legs were still not feeling it, but I felt like I would be okay as long as I did not push myself. I decided to flip my Garmin's screen over to heart rate for the rest of the race. That way, I would be running by effort, not by the speed I wish my legs could handle if I hadn't played softball like an 18 year old. 7:11/mile.

Miles 4 to 6:
Finally it was out to the Lakefront Trail. I usually don't like races that use the trail, but I hardly ever make it down this far south, and it is a beautiful stretch with the lakefront so close to the trail. There must have been less prize money this year, because I did not see the Kenyans heading back like I did last year during these miles. We circled around Promontory Point, where George Lucas got married a year ago this month. 7:10/mile.

Miles 7 to 9:
We had a tailwind as we ran north, which was good for speed, as I upped my pace a little more, but the tailwaind was also helping to make things a little too warm. Just after mile 6, Xaarlin and I spotted each other and she (as she did last year) took some awesome photos, as well as cheered me on:
Credit: Xaarlin
Since it is an out and back course on the Lakefront Trail, this was essentially the same path for the return trip. Just before I reached the hairpin turnaround, I spotted Lynton coming towards me and gave him a side-five. After the turnaround, I once again spotted Xaarlin who snapped my picture and high-fived me. She got this cool looking shot of me and the skyline (and some drummers).

Credit: Xaarlin
It was about this point that I kind of "locked in" with a group of three other runners that I would run with for the remainder of the race. 6:57/mile.

Miles 10 to 12:
The nice tailwind that we had going north was now a headwind. It was slightly refreshing to have the wind in my face, but it also helped to slow me down. A group of students from France was handing out water near the mile 10 aid station and I gave them an enthusiastic "Merci" and they said "De rien" in response!. I passed the other three runners in the pack, but when we hit the giant hill on the return trip, I slowed considerably and they passed me. I figured that I could pass them again later, so not to worry. I said "hi" again to Lynton who was nursing an injury, but giving it his all in the race. 7:10/mile.

Miles 13 and 13.25
A slight uphill around the bend in the lake and it was a straight shot back to the street in front of the South Shore Cultural Center. I knew from last year's race that it was about a half a mile from the entrance to the center to the finish line (near the beach). So I was not going to kick too early and flame-out before I could see the finish line. I was still running neck and neck with the trio of dudes, but wanted to beat them at the finish. I could feel a cramp in my leg, but ignored it. I waited until just before the 13 mile sign to make my move and turn on the after-burners. Once I spotted the sign up ahead, I started to sprint, and got ahead of the guys once and for all, as they did not respond to my surge. Just then, I spotted Jenny who shouted my name and took this pic:
Putting away my "competition" with a surge at the end of the race! Source

At the very end I heard "Go Pete!" being yelled by Jennifer and then I crossed the finish line. Pace: 6:55/mile 

My Results:
Total time: 1:34:02 (7:11/mile) Course PR!
Age Group: 9 out of 128
Overall: 93 out of 2,870

Analysis: I captured a course PR - it was the best I could hope for with the condition my legs were in. Especially since I could barely walk yesterday! I probably could have run even greater negative splits, but with the wind in our face on the return trip it was difficult. I'm looking forward to getting my legs back to "normal" and running a decent 5k next weekend!

Post Race:
I changed clothes on the beach, well really in a porta-potty overlooking the beach and made my way over to the beer garden. I grabbed a beer and met up with Lynton who had an ice bag taped to his leg:

Lynton and me enjoying a cold one in the beer garden
Then we made our way over to chat with Jenny and her crew:
More tired runners drinking beer!
Then it was back to the shuttle bus back to the Museum of Science and Industry.

What an awesome fun-filled morning.  I not only survived, but I met up with some awesome friends, and as a bonus - my legs don't feel much worse than when the day started. I consider this a major win!

Next up: Run for the Stars 5k on Saturday!