Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 14 - March 20

Weekly Totals: Distance: 5 mi. ( 21 mi.) Time: 0:37:46 Vertical: 0 ft. Great week of cross-training, but there's only one way to get better at running: Run.
*(Includes last Sunday's run)

I know where to start, I'm just not sure I want to start as to why this week's mileage has been absent. I hate injuries, especially when I can't pin-point the cause. So, as a professor once told me, "always start in the middle."

Wednesday night left me feeling unbelievably strong -in terms of my rock climbing ability- and worried about my running. I haven't run since Sunday, and not because I'm tired; in fact, muscularly and mentally I feel at the top, but because I've bruised my left Achilles tendon so sufficiently I can't wear shoes to walk around-in. I've gone the majority of two days without putting on shoes that have a back. I'm not jumping off the deep-end in the latest installment of "barefoot is better," I literally cannot wear a shoe on my left heel. I have no pain, or loss of motion as far as the tendon's functionality is concerned. I can run, jump, dance, do calf raises, rock climb -barefoot- and feel absolutely nothing. But the moment something touches my heel -even a sock- I'm belittled to nothing more than a complaint.

Monday, I took to the pool for a great 30 minute swim, my heel didn't really hurt, I even wore shoes to work. Then I headed to Adrenaline Climbing for some more upper body cross-training, put my climbing shoes on, noticed a slight discomfort, ignored, and climbed well.

Tuesday, I put a shoe on in the morning and took it off. Went to work shoe-less, put a shoe on and ran 1 mile with the Tuesday Night Run group, noticed the heel the entire time. Went home, went to sleep. Should have iced.

Wednesday, I went to work barefoot.  Climbed, that evening, sparingly. Did some great boulder routes and felt super strong. Guess not running 30 miles before rock climbing will tend to lend me some more energy.

Thursday, no shoes all day. Took a level one Krav Maga class, barefoot. And even went to the bar barefoot for St. Patty's Day imbibing.

Friday, no shoes. But I did make some neat sandals out of old shoe liners and old shoe laces. Went out around some, unfortunately, frat-tastic dive bars, in my homemade sandals. No pain the entire night. Things seem to be looking up. I'll try to run tomorrow, shod (shoe+d, drop the "e" add a "d" and you're left with the correct spelling for someone with shoes on, and a word that looks like an ebonic spelling of shorty, or dude, or something of that nature.)

Saturday, I plan on running 20 miles of Sunday's Publix Georgia Marathon (they really need a better name) so, I lace up some shoes run up my drive way and head right back inside. The pain is at it's worse. I cut the back of the shoe off, literally, ran about a 1/4 mile and had to make the decision to bail. It's too risky and I need to heal.

Sunday, I took my altered shoes to the track, ran 2 miles, decided the backless shoe (now a running clog) isn't for me. Took my shoes off and ran 2 more miles on the in-field of the track barefoot, and with no noticeable tendon pain.

Plan of actionI'm at a loss for how this injury even happened, and more so, what the hell I'm going to do to fix it. The 50k is four weeks away...and any plans on a fast 50k have gone out the window. The goal is to just run and finish well, now. Ice, no shoes, run this upcoming week's mileage either barefoot on a track, or in the deep end of a pool. Anybody got any more suggestions?

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 07 - March 13

Weekly Totals: Distance: 32.69 mi. (52.69 mi) Time: 5:48:27 Vertical: 6343 ft.
*(Includes last Sunday's Run)

Distance: 0.00
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

Today my legs felt heavy, but relaxed. I anticipated going swimming, but opted to lay low and stretch. I'm not feeling as bad as I thought I may, after the 20 miler on Sunday. I'm a bit confused as to why it was so tough from mile 17 to 20. The only thing I can think of is that after I stopped for the bathroom break at mile 15 I did pick up the pace, and maybe it was too much too soon. Who knows? It could've been not enough food in me the night before.

Distance: 6.00(?)
Time: 0:48:00(?)
Vertical: 50 ft.(?)

There are some days when all is going well and you still don't make it to the trail. I got in my car after work, started her up, and realized that I didn't have my headlamp. A quick glance to the heavens revealed the moon wasn't out, or anywhere in sight, so it left me contemplating what to do: run on the trail in dark, on the road, or not at all. Then it hit me, "you're over analyzing." It's so easy to get caught up in running technological advances, today, Garmin, Headlamps, Moisture Wicking Everything, Ipod's, etc., that we make these rash decisions that unless all of our stars (technology) are aligned we can't enjoy the run, let alone go on it. This entirely defeats the purpose of running. So, tonight's run I wore a cotton t-shirt, no watch, and NB Minimus (Trail). I ran on the road, to the track, around the track (4 miles worth) and back to the car. All at an, "I feel comfortable pace." It was liberating. And, no, my feet didn't fall apart because I wasn't wearing cushioned shoes, no, my upper torso was not chaffed because I didn't wear a moisture wicking shirt, and, yes, the run was still valid even though I can't Garmin, or even chronograph-ically, back it up. Getting back to the basics always brings me back to reality.


I feel great today, but the weekly mileage has been purposefully reduced to begin the 'peak' for the upcoming 50k. Today, I let myself enjoy some rock climbing, but didn't push it too hard. I'm so excited about hill repeats, tomorrow. It has been forever since I've really had a workout focus on the best strengthening workout in running.

Distance: 4.51 mi.
Time: 00:38:21
Vertical: 529 ft.

I'm not sure where I left yesterday's motivation, or where I got this ill feeling from, but I wanted nothing to do with running today, when I woke up. And it was a crazy trip from my house to, eventually, Collins Hill Park. I set out today with a sick feeling, and fatigue because I didn't sleep at all last night. I drove to the Suwanee Greenway where I knew from previous bike rides there was a substantial hill that would be great for the planned workout: 1.5 mile Warm-up, 5 X 2:00 w/ 3:00 Rest Hill Repeats, 1.5 mile Cool-down. When I arrived at the first destination I ran straight to the bathroom, took some time, and then right back to the front seat of my car. I was set to just go home from the sickness (maybe food 'poison'. Poison is a bit strong of a description), and not to mention my utter disappoint in the actual grade and size of this hill. My imagination can run wild sometimes, or I'm so used to mountains the hills around Gwinnett just aren't satisfactory anymore. What a diva, I can be. I started my car, drove to the stop sign and instead of heading home I headed to Collins Hill Park. I realized that it wasn't the size of the hill that was discouraging it was the surface. I'm done with the road. I got to the park, warmed up, ran my workout, and skipped the cool-down. The repeats felt amazing, exhausting, but amazing.


An off day, today. My glutes are sore from the hills, plus the planned 22 miler in the mountains, this weekend, is on the radar. I can't wait.

Distance: 6.18 mi.
Time: 0:52:19
Vertical: 548 ft.

The amazing weather tempted me past my breaking point and right after work I took to the trail for a great run. 6 miles has not felt this good in 6 weeks. And my pace was faster than normal on the trail. Probably should have slowed down in prep for tomorrow's long run, but oh well.

Distance: 16.00 mi.
Time: 03:29:47
Vertical: 5,246 ft. (nearly a mile)

Wow, it has been some time since I've been to the mountains, and damn did I miss it. I planned on a nice 22 miles today, but a turned ankle at 15.45 mi. lead me to, intelligently, opt-out at 16 miles. If the terrain had not been so demanding on the downhills I more than likely would have continued, but once an ankle is turned it's more susceptible to a serious injury. Either way, the vertical gain at Blood Mountain is something I salivate for in my every day life. The burning quads, the dry mouth, the endless uphill is a dream come true. It was great to see a lot of hikers on the trail, especially when they see someone running up a hill the can barely walk up. I feel almost celebrity when random people start encouraging my masochist efforts, sans the celebrity drama of course, but I do like solitude and a busy trail doesn't offer that. Of course, the weather was perfect so a busy trail should be predictable. Here's a great vertical map of Sunday's slightly short 22 miler (ha):

Sunday, March 6, 2011

February 28 - March 06

Weekly Totals: Distance: 32.35 mi. Time: 04:20:24 Vertical: 2,033 ft.

Monday ~ Adrenaline Climbing
Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

With Saturday's tempo/race, I wanted to make sure I didn't pull the same mistake as I did with the Sweetwater Sweetheart Half-Marathon and get back on the mileage too quickly. With 6 weeks until the Sweetwater 50k I'm in a point of maintaining gained fitness, because in terms of physiology I'm not going to be gaining much from here on out. The biggest risk is obviously losing fitness. So, today I 'harnessed up' and hit the rock-climbing gym for an easy workout.

Tuesday ~ Fleet Feet Sports
Distance: 4.08 mi.
Time: 0:33:35
Vertical: 137 ft.

A lazy morning makes for a late night run, well, more like an after work and in the dark run. The issue: I'm tired of the asphalt and I didn't bring any motivation to hit the soft packed trail. The run went well, however, even despite my annoyance at not getting up in the morning.

Wednesday ~ Home course
Distance: 3.26 mi.
Time: 0:24:52
Vertical: 251 ft.

A workout loomed in the back of my mind, but sheer terror of doing too much and over-training kept me on the road starting at my front porch. Absolutely great weather today. I really need to start getting up earlier and hitting the trails. Even if it's just a local park, but ideally the Appalachian Trail is calling and my mind is yearning.

Thursday ~ Collins Hill Park
Distance: 5.01 mi.
Time: 0:40:41
Vertical: 503 ft.

An afternoon jaunt on my favorite local park and my spirits are soaring. I'm really feeling good. My pace was a lot faster than I thought. About mid-way through the run I felt tired and got a little down on myself. Thoughts of, "Am I still not recovered?" and  "What the hell is going on?" slipped in-and-out of my mind about as quickly as the wood chips passed my peripheral. I glanced at my watch and noticed some quick paced averages

Friday ~
Distance: 0.00
Vertical: 0 ft

Um, I don't really know how to say/write this. I completely forgot to run today. Partially because of work, partially because of waking up late, and partially because I just forgot. Lets say, 5%, 5%, 90%. Not planned at all. And this means I won't be running until the twenty miler on Sunday morning.

Saturday ~
Distance: 0.00
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

Work all day, and a planned rest day before the twenty. I really wish I hadn't forgotten to run yesterday. Definitely put a dent in the total weekly mileage. Oh well.

Sunday ~ Stone Mountain Park
Distance: 20.00 mi.
Time: 02:41:15
Vertical: 1,142 ft.

Windy is an under statement and in all honesty a hindrance. The run started out well, and due to some forgetful agenda planning I winded up having to run solo. Which, isn't bad at all, and truthfully I felt really connected with the flow and juxtaposition of  mind, body, and environment. The run for the first fifteen miles was great, the last five, however, I hurt. I struggled to get into a pattern after I had to stop for a bathroom break. I took the one and only gel at 15, and I think it made a little difference in the blood-sugar levels, but the bathroom break took its toll and miles 18 and 19 I really felt my hamstrings cramping and calves giving into a reduced endorphin flow from my brain being so tired from holding such a repetitive pattern. Ah, the joys of running. Speaking of joys of running, at mile 14 a lady stopped walking as I approached her, I was clearing the sinus cavities (snot rockets and spitting), and said, "You're gross." I kindly replied with a similar comment, "Go (insert a four letter word beginning with f and ending in uck) yourself." Who do people think they are?
Here's a nice Garmin image of today's run, includes route, splits, and elevation profile:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thrill in the Hills ~ Half-Marathon ~ Race Review (And a splurge on diet)

Note from the author: I procrastinated a bit on writing this race recap, so some details may be unintentionally lost, but bare with me and I'll do the best I can.

Thrill in the Hills ~ Half-Marathon ~ Race Review

I didn't sign up to run this until Wednesday, although, it had been on the calendar for months, but with such a poor running performance the past two weeks any thoughts of racing were pretty much washed away like 'castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually' (Yes, a Jimi Hendrix reference). I just didn't have the willingness to pound out a half-marathon. And this is where surrounding yourself by other runners, especially other runners you routinely run with, pay off. Robert sent me an email and in less than 10 minutes had me ready to run. I just needed some accountability and my teammate pulled through. The plan was to combine our scheduled 20 mile run and the half marathon: 3.5 mile Warm-up, 13.1 mile Tempo, 3.5 mile Cool-down.

Off to the race.

As we finished our light footed and light hearted morning warm-up I noticed one thing, my stomach did not appreciate my Friday diet. Rule number one for any veteran runner/racer: Don't change your diet drastically, if at all, before a race. Rule broken. I scarfed down, not one, but two Chik-Fil-A sandwich's Friday for lunch and now I was going to pay for the poor choice.

Scroll to the bottom, or read everything in-between to get to my thoughts on diet.

Fifteen minutes prior to the race I found myself standing, along with at least fifty other runners, in a line for the toilet. Five minutes, literally, before the race I closed the door behind me, ran off to find the starting line and thought, "it's going to be a long run."

Robert and I decided to start mid-pack, just because this is a "C" race, not an "A" race. If you race too hard before your goal race, you run the risk of burning out. I know this all too well. Just look at my last two weeks of running. In the end, this move paid off well.

The first four to five miles were made up of single track, long lines, and overzealous runners skirting past on the thorn ridden shores of the forest. Not me. I knew, just from race experience that most of these people were going out way too fast for their capabilities and were sure to slow down. There's a lot of fun when you force yourself to slow down in a race. It's almost as if you see the future. You know from the start who's going to drop off the back end and who is running within their means. I'd say that all but one person that passed us (Robert and I ran together for at least the first seven miles) in the first four miles we caught up to by the end. The pace was manageable, nothing breaking 8:00 min/mi. pace.

By mile six, the single-track was shredded from an endless line of runners to groups of three or four runners that went out way too fast and were now paying for it, and getting passed by us. Getting passed in a race, during the later miles, can be detrimental to the psyche. Another reason to run within your means.

The ballot was cast and Robert and I began our tempo, clocking the next miles from 7:30 min/mi. to 7:00 min/mi. pace. Somewhere between seven and thirteen a gapped was formed between us, but nothing noteworthy. We both ran according to plan and finished the day up with a three mile cool-down that hurt like hell. Stopping completely and starting up again with twenty minutes, blah.

My finishing time: 01:35:14, not too shabby for goofing off the first five miles.

Overall the race was a success and has shed some new light on the remaining seven weeks of training. I'm going to slow things down for the next week, so that I can fully get out of this funk, but having a teammate by my side is what really has me going full-force, again.


My diet mainly consists of vegetables, fruit, water, and beer. Mostly rice in different forms, noodles, milk, etc. And the beer enjoyed, but not imbibed. The fruit, for now, is a bit out of season. And the water, an obvious necessity. I try to eat meat once a week, totaling four to five meals a month, but I keep it to a minimum. Mainly because I don't think meat is bad for anyone, any food for that matter, but I think the amount of overall consumption of meat in America (every meal, excluding snacks) is directly related to the sheer obesity and health problems. The main benefit, for me, with this diet: low body fat composition. And, yes, I always get two questions: What about protein? What about iron?

Your body cannot absorb all the protein it takes in. Is protein important? Yes. Is too much bad for your health? Yes. If you eat a healthy amount is that a good thing? Yes. What are good, non-meat, sources?Protein can be found, in high amounts, in many different vegetables, although I suppose the legume family takes the cake. And something important for me to note, is that, vegetable protein content is inferior to that found in meat fat, concerning absorbing the actual protein in the body, so it's important to combine high-protein vegetables with each other, and I also believe it's important to have some (one to two meals a week, not a day, a week) meat, preferably lean meat, in your diet.
Here are some high-protein vegetables (One cup):

soybeans (29 g of protein) lentils (18 g of protein) black beans (15 g of protein)
kidney beans (13 g of protein) chickpeas (12 g of protein) pinto beans (12 g of protein)
black-eyed peas (11 g of protein) peas (9 g of protein) spinach (5 g of protein)
broccoli (4 g of protein)

Aren't you anemic? No. Is there iron in vegetables? Yes.
I agree, that iron deficiency is a growing problem, and among anything young women and children are especially prone and should always take a good look at their diets to help avoid anemia. On that note, and off to a brief nutritional science lesson.
Iron is found in two forms, heme (meats) and non-heme (vegetables). Iron is a fundamental part of hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen through the blood. And we can all agree that oxygen is pretty important. The two forms of iron are very similar in concept to the difference in meat and vegetable protein. Meat iron, or heme iron, is much more easily absorbed than non-heme. What does this mean? The same thing it does for protein, combine high-non-heme iron foods, and eat meat sparingly (one to two meals a week, not a day, a week) Vegans, someone that only consumes vegetables and fruits, do not have a higher occurrence of anemia than the Carnivores. (Obeid R, Geisel J, Schorr H, et al. The impact of vegetarianism on some haematological parameters. Eur J Haematol. 2002;69:275-9.)

Here's a list/comparison of "high" iron foods (heme vs. non-heme)

Food, cooked & Iron content

  Non-heme                            Heme
spinach15.7 mghamburger1.2 mg
collard greens3.1 mgsirloin steak0.9 mg
lentis3.9 mgchicken breast0.6 mg
broccoli1.9 mgpork0.4 mg

The bottom line, food isn't bad. Quantity should determine value. High fat diet, equals high body fat, Low fat diet, equals low body fat.
I understand we didn't talk about fat, or carbs, or amino acids, but that can be for another post, if enough people ask.