Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm legitamately pissed right now

My troubles started last Wednesday, when I was still in Illinois. I was running along the shoulder of one of the roads on my way to the forest to go run some trails. This specific road was raised a couple inches such that the shoulder I was running on was raised a good four to five inches off the ground; and it was a straight vertical drop to the grass. It worried me a little, especially when the shoulder narrowed and cars were almost brushing you going 65 mph. It was a little unnerving, and I was always thinking of the worst. So anyway, I was running down the shoulder of this highway, and a car swerved toward me on the shoulder, so I instinctively jumped off the shoulder and into the grass. Actually, I didn't jump, I more like fell. I caught one of my feet on the edge of the shoulder and lost my balance, so I rolled down this hill this road was on. I came up a little rattled and bloody, but none the worse for wear. My knee was killing me, but its always like that after you bump it a little bit. Anyways, I had fallen into a couple bushes as well, so I wasn't feeling the greatest, so I walked/ limped/ ran home.

So whatever, I iced my knee until Saturday morning, and Saturday was my first run. Bad idea. I was expecting some pain and stiffness but yikes. It felt like my kneecap was on fire. I've never felt such intense pain. It was awful, and I had to curtail my run at 15 minutes, all though it wasn't that long since I walked a lot. The next day I drove home, which didn't help matters, even though I got out of the car every hour or so to try and move around. I wasn't getting anywhere. My knee hurt to bend every which way, but more forward and back than side to side. And going up stairs, that was the worst. When I got home it took me like half an hour to make 2 trips up and down the two flights of stairs to my room. I had to go up one step at a time and couldn't put any weight on my left knee or I thought it would collapse, it felt that unstable. Since I got home around 10pm, I only iced for half an hour and went to bed.

That was Sunday, and I iced all of Monday, and Tuesday morning. I was a little shocked Monday night when I could walk with little pain. I mean, I was far from not hurting, but at least I could move around. I could also pinpoint the pain, which was another big step, because now I could do some googleing and figure out what was up. Tuesday I accidentally came down the stars leading with my left leg, which previously led to excruciating pain, but it wasn't there. I mean it still hurt quite a bit, but the stabbing pain wasn't there. So that was good. I decided it was time to start rehabbing for real.

This is really what pisses me off no end. Our school has 2 workout facilities on campus. One is on the south side of campus, one north. The north campus gym doesn't exist anymore since they tore it down and are building a 4 million dollar athletic complex that looks like ****. I got over to the south side and it was closed until the end of first semester. I was beyond mad because it took me a while to hobble over to south gym, and now I had to go back. Beyond that, now I had to find some place to go. Its like this: I could sit on my butt all day and eventually my knee wouldn't hurt anymore. However, I'm looking for my knee to actually get better because I'ma be honest with you; once my knee stops hurting I'm out the door for a few miles. But if it stops hurting, that just means its rested, not actually better. I'm not sure what's wrong, but obviously I'm going to want to strengthen my knee before I run, else I'm just going to get hurt again.

So, my mission was to find a gym or something. Preferably one that had like a week free so I could pretend to be interested for a while and then switch to another one. This was pretty much an overriding concern. I didn't care if I had to workout with bros or guidos but if I could get it for free its all good. Not happening though. Nobody had a free offer more than a day, and most I had to be 21 for, and since they had to have my info on file, I don't think I could get away with lying. So, my second concern was no guidos, guidettes, meat heads, or barbies. I'm already pretty depressed I'm one of those guys who has to join a gym, I don't think I could take a bunch of orange guys walking around. Third concern was cost and time. Of course, I don't want to pay like a million dollars to ride a bike, and I won't do it forever either, allthough it might not be a half bad idea to throw in a day of cross training every week. Anyways, I just need something to do until the school gym opens. Thats part of the problem too, I feel fat and lazy when I don't do anything.

So, I broke down and joined the YMCA. I'm not going to lie, I had to bite my lip and swallow my pride while doing it. While it had excersize bikes, a pool, it was freakin expensive. Like $60 for the month, I think? rediculous. Its nice though because its like a 10 minute walk from work too. So here's what I'm thinking: until next Friday, its all spinning. No exceptions. Hopefully I can work back to 2 hours, at least. After that, I'ma do both, and alternate days spinning and running- probably on the indoor track or tradmill. After that, I'll go to six days a week running, one spinning or biking. That is, if all goes well. So there it is, hold me to that schedule

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Burger on the Run road show

This weekend was supposed to be all that and a bag of chips running wise. Boy, was I wrong. Bonnackburn, Illinois is the worst running city since Dallas- or anywhere in Texas for that matter. This city sucks. It looks like the city planner got ****faced one night, woke up on his buddy's couch with pizza boxes and over him and a lampshade on his head after two hours of sleep and said "****, I have to have my plan of Bannockburn to the Governor in 15 minutes." I mean, this city is terribly laid out. My first run, I mistakenly turned right out of my hotel room. Big mistake because, well, first off, the road that I run on is actually a state highway. Second, there's a sidewalk on the left side of the road, but only for about a quarter of a mile when it turns into a slanted crushed rock- broken asphalt shoulder thatis like half the width of a sidewalk. Its pretty trippy to run that close to cars going 65mph. That crushed rock "trail" lasted for a mile, at most, then I decided to go right up Telegraph Avenue to the Lake Forest Metra station. Well, there's no sidewalk and not even a shoulder until you get to the Bannockburn/ Lake Forest city line where there's a sidewalk.

Whatsmore, you have to cross some street and then go another half mile or so to get to the station. I forget what the street is called, but its probably some state highway. Every street here is a state highway. Well, I get to the intersection running on the one sidewalk which is on the right side of the street, and the sidewalk across the highway is on the left side. Are you kidding me? Plus, there was a "cross traffic does not stop" sign, which I thought was weird for a relatively major intersection. Whatever though, I didn't really want to get hit, so I turned around and ran back.

So, now I've learned. I only turn left out of the hotel parking lot toward the tri- state tollway where its all paved and nice. Still, that limits my options a little. The one thing that this city does have going for it is that there's a forest on the outskirts of town that has a pretty nice trail system. I've only ran five miles or so on the trails because they're two and a half miles away from the hotel, but they're better than running on the same road over and over and over.

The people here are nasty too. Well, I shouldn't say nasty because they haven't punched me in the face unprovoked or anything, but they're extremely over- defensive. So, I was going to Chicago and then to Evanston on the Metra, and even the 9:20am train from Lake Forest to Chicago was overcrowded with no open seats. So I asked some girl who looked my age if I could sit by her. She said politely that she'd rather not have that, so whatever, I kept on moving to the next car. I asked some other girl the same, and she said yes, but her mom said no. Her mom! are you kidding me? whatever though. She said no again a little more sternly, so I kept moving. I was a little pissed, more because I had to stand for the 40 minute train trip than anything else. I dunno, maybe intentions got misinterpreted, who knows, but I was just trying to get to know somebody. Who knows?

Truth is, I'm not here to have a grand ole' time though, I'm here to coach the Courage Center team. I realize I haven't really explained what this entails, so here we go.

I don't think I have an official title, but I coach the ambulatory track athletes. I don't know how many athletes I coach because people seem to attend practice as they please (which I hate,) but I would guess the number is around 5. When runners come to practice, they are basically separated into 3 groups: wheelchair racers, race runners, and ambulatory athletes. Wheelchair racers obviously race in specialized racing wheelchairs and you've probably seen them before- there's usually a wheelchair division in Marathons. Race runners are a relatively new category. They're usually ambulatory athletes in that they can stand up when running, but generally they don't have full control of their lower extremities or have poor balance. Because of that they use an apparatus that looks somewhat like a walker and somewhat like a tricycle. Ambulatory athletes usually have mild Cerebal Palsy or something of that ilk where they have full, or at least good enough, control of their lower extremities. Often times there's flexibility, motor control, and balance issues to work through.

Usually, there's a coach for each group, although not always. I've coached the race runners, but never the wheelchairs. Obviously, being a distance guy, I know some, but not a lot about sprints so I have to read up or bounce ideas off the St. Thomas track coach and stuff like that. As far as the 400 on up, I can coach some basic strategy and technique, in the mile I really know what I'm doing, but the 100 and 200 I'm pretty much clueless. We only have one meet a year in addition to the National Junior Disability Championships. The one meet we have is the qualifying meet in which athletes have to run pretty lenient times in order to qualify for NJDC's. The meet's all in one day, which is a lot of running, especially for the younger athletes and those that have to run hard to qualify. I'm currently looking into making that meet a dual meet with a masters track meet being held the day before at the same track, but who knows, we'll see how it goes.

So this year I had two athletes going to nats. And yes, I tried to grow a stachie for nashies but failed miserably. One is a distance specialist and one is a 200- 400 specialist. So on the 20th was the pentathlon with the only running events being the 100m and the 800m for the women, the 1500m for the men. Both my athletes were the only ambulatory athletes in the event, albeit in different divisions which meant they could throw together, but not run together. The girl ran the 800 in, if I remember 4:02, which was far off her PR but since she ran even splits, I was pleased even though she just did the pent for fun. The guy I really pressured to do the pent, not only because he was all gung- ho about throwing, but I figured he might as well get a 1500m time trial in before the 1500m for real two days later.

Jeff came to me last year when he was a 9:15- 9:20 miler. Not to get into detail, but his main issue, for me at least, is that he can't really pick up his feet, which severely compromises his stride. When he ran the mile at the NJDC qualifying meet, he ran a 9:29 after minimal training. From then on I really specialized him, and he ran 8:37:24 after doing four events against no competition. I was really pleased, and I think he was too. Fast forward to Thursday (I went to Sigma Chi Headquarters on Wednesday, but I'll get to that tomorrow since its getting late) and the 100m and 1500m runs were on the docket. Jeff was up in the first heat of the 1500, and I told him to get in behind and form a pack with somebody, and picked a kid with a qualifying time of 8:18 for him to run with. His qualifying time was a minute slower, but I told him to hang withe 'em for at least a lap. He might have gone to the starting line a little overwhelmed but thats okay; better than overconfident.

In about 100m he finally got in behind the 8:18 kid, in a pack with that kid, and a race walker. He ran like that for 700m or so, then he made an awkward pass of the 8:18 kid and promptly died 300m later. Running all by himself, he died hard. I knew, he knew, and everyone in the state knew he went out too fast. So did the entire field. I was strategically the only one standing in the backstretch grandstand, so I could yell instructions to Jeff. Mostly it was just form and stride length stuff, but on the third lap I told him to tuck in behind the race runner. It was risky because I knew he had to slow his pace a little, but he didn't have many more options. It paid off big time, and he blasted his last lap in 2:11:89 (his fastest of the four), and finished in a PR 7:56:96.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pretty solid weekend

This week has been a pretty solid one for me on a few fronts. First, and the latest development, upon planning my runs for next week, I found that the hotel I'm staying at is only two and a half miles from a forest preserve. Supposedly there's also a trail head only a mile and a half or so from my hotel too. To tell the truth, I'm really pumped; it'll be a nice break from the suburban roads of St. Paul. Second, I'm a winner! Twice! First, a couple weeks ago I entered the daily contest and won a Brooks Nightlife prize pack. It consists of a LED light magnet, a nightlife vest, and a nightlife cap. I usually don't go all out and dress up bright for night runs (although maybe I should, I almost got killed crossing the street the other night; apparently the new twilight movie gives teenage girls the right to run over people in order to get to the theater) although I will if I have to run on the street for a while at night. I'll bring the whole kit to Chicago with me just in case, but it usually doesn't get dark enough in the summer to warrant a headlamp or anything. In the winter though, I suspect everything's going to see a lot of use.

Second, I won the Good Fortune Giveaway runners pack on Frayed Laces' blog. I'm super pumped about this. It includes, among other things, a fuel belt, a Brooks water bottle, the movie Volcanic Sprint, and most importantly, a Hansons/ Brooks singlet signed by Mike Morgan and Kevin Hanson. Have you seen that man Mike run? holy crap. Check this out. Woah. Guy runs a 2:15 marathon in '06 and doesn't look like he's lost a step at all. Other than that, I'm psyched because I don't have a fuel belt anymore (I had one, but left it at one of my runs), and who couldn't use another water bottle? I've got a Running Warehouse one that came along with a pair of my Adrens, but its in pretty bad shape. As for the movie, I've got to be honest and say I haven't heard of it, but I'm pumped to watch a running movie.. any running movie. My 8 hour shifts at work are getting pretty long lately.

Lastly, I've discovered the magic of doubling up my runs. It makes for a long day so I won't double during the weekdays, but on weekends its a godsend. Wake up at 6, put in a few miles, go to bed, wake up and do whatever and then put in a few more miles. Awesome. In fact, in an hour I'm going to make today a 19 mile day. I know that conventional wisdom says you're not supposed to break up a long run because the point of a long run is endurance. Fine, point well taken, but my whole thong right now is 1) laying down a base, and 2) mental toughness. I think going out and running 7, 8, 9 times a week goes a long way to accomplish goal #2 imo.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Brooks Launch Reiew

My Ghosts crapped out on May 28, 2010. A day that will live in infamy. I can't say I didn't see it coming. I mean after 600 miles you could have put up a billboard saying "buy new shoes or you'll get injured." I'm lucky they lasted another 100 miles or so. One day I went out and the first few strides felt like I was running on bricks. So I went inside, changed into my flats and finished my run. And it stayed like that for the better part of three weeks. That night I ordered the Brooks Launch from the Brooks ID site, in the nightlife colorway. They didn't come until three weeks later like I said, which limited my running a little, but I found a way around it.

I bought these shoes principally because they were getting awesome reviews on and, as well as some positive word of mouth from a few local runners and running store employees. I went to run' n' fun to try them on and ran in them for like 10 minutes, but that part's pretty trivial. I mean, how are you supposed to tell anything about a shoe in less than 2 miles? Anyways, they came on Wednesday, and I just had to pick them up even though I was in a rush. Wednesdays I get off work at 3, and have to be on the bus to the track by 4:30, so its always a time crunch, but I picked up the box anyways and re laced them on the bus.

First impressions were good, although when I first put them on I was a little concerned that the shoe collar was a little bit too high and would rub my anklebone raw. But I have huge cankles, so that might be my problem. Still, I've never felt that in a Brooks shoe. Other than that it is buttery soft, but that was exaggerated because I was used to running in racing flats. That first day it was 106 on the track, but I still paced 4x800 repeats and then did a 3 mile on the track. No adverse effects, in fact only positive reviews from me. I didn't notice any chafing, plus the sockliner felt awesome, even better than in the Ghost 2's.

Today I took them on a 7 miler and I went nice... and... slow because I've had some sloshy stomach issues lately and even though I felt good, I wanted to take it easy. The first thing I noticed was the heel/ toe transition felt surprisingly good, even better than the Ghosts. For the first couple miles, I couldn't even notice the weight difference between my Green Silences and the Launches (there's a ~2oz difference) but as I went into the latter miles, I could definitely feel it. Its really soft in the forefoot, almost squishy, but I'll assume that'l go away as I wear the shoe... not sure if that's good or bad. I definitely noticed some ankle chafage this run, so I may have to fix that with a swiss army knife and some duct tape if it continues. For what its worth, I thought I was running a pace in the mid 9's today and I ended up running 8:07's. Whats more, my legs weren't sore after my runs, like they would be running in the Green Silence or even the Ghost 2 to a lesser extent. The other thing is, the sizing's a little weird. Its definitely got more volume in the midfoot and through the forefoot- I'd order a size smaller than you would in say- the Ghosts or Adrens.

Overall, the Launch is billed as a lightweight trainer/ racer, but I don't think I'll ever use it for racing. Plus, the nightlife colorway looks sick.

I love the Launch and the Launch loves me.

Summer Goals

Now that my summer class is over, I've got to figure out what I'm going to do this summer. Here's my list so far, in no particular order. Feel free to add.
- Read as much Scott Turow as I can find
- Read OAR (again) and Again to Carthage
- Qualify at least 1 athlete for the paralympic team
- Get my 6 pack back
- Start running 300 mile months again
- Figure out what I'm going to do to fulfill my Sigma Chi duties (Philanthropy/ Fundraising/ Sweetheart)
- Learn how to steeplechase
- Look into transferring schools

ready, set, go!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So, where ya been?

Nowhere interesting, thats for sure. My summer thus far has consisted of work, class, and coaching. Nothing to strenuous, but nothing too terribly interesting. Well, that's not entirely true- my Constitutional Law class was really interesting, but a lot of work. Surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of writing involved- we had to write 8 slip opinions for the cases we read, but only 6 of them counted, so we could effectively not do three of them, which I took full advantage of. Don't get me wrong, that class interested me too much for me to sluff it off, but since the class met Tuesdays and Thursday nights, the turnaround from Tuesday to Thursday was a little tight, especially with track practice Wednesday nights. Apart from the little writing there was, the class was just a lot of reading. We had an 1000 page case book that we read through containing Supreme Court opinions dating back to 1930, as well as three books: when the Nazis Came to Skokie, the Christian Burial Case, and Ultimate Punishment. That's what made it a lot of work.

Other than that, summer's been a lot of the same. Working 5 days a week, 40 hours, getting up at 6:00 to be there at 7:30, or even earlier if there's an event to do. I work in St. Thomas' technology department, so sometimes there's a bunch to do, and sometimes it seems like I don't even need to show up to work. Plus, yesterday and today I've worked 12 and a half hour days, so that sucks a lot. Plus I'm working Saturday so I'm racking up a lot of hours. Its all good though, because I'm going to Chicago next Tuesday through Saturday.

I'm going to Chicago, actually Deerfield, next week to coach in the National Junior Disability Championships. Really, when I'm there I can't do much coaching, lets be honest. Even at this point, two practices out, there's not much I can do-you can't make a training cycle in two days, but you sure can wreck one- the hay's in the barn, so to speak. Really, I'm just going to sit in the stands with my clipboard, writing down splits and blowing my vuvuzela real loud. Granted, my athletes aren't the world class or anything, but for most of them this is the climax of their running careers. Okay, one of my athletes is world class and already qualified for the Paraolympic World Championship Team and got a training stipend and all that, but that's none of my doing. For the vast majority of my athletes, they think they'll became better milers overnight. But that's another rant for another post.

So, my running. Its been kind of hectic and disorganized. Last week was good in the mileage category, but that's about it. 45 miles, but I only ran 5 days, doubling up once. The week before that I was slacking big time, with only 30 miles, with the mantra "I'll start my half training tomorrow." Speaking of, when should I start my half training? I'm not sure, but I'm thinking not this training cycle. There's a half that I was looking at what, August 7th? Now I'm thinking that's too early. Now I'm thinking that's way too early. The question's not if I could do it, but how fast. The master plan is to get faster and more mentally tough for next summer, and I feel like racing this early would negate both goals. I've got a master plan, which includes lots of speed and tempos, but to do that I've got to build up a solid base again, and I think racing would put me back at square one. Plus, I can't afford a $47 race entry fee, so that makes things a little easier.

Next in the news, R.I.P. Brooks Ghost 2's. After roughly 736 miles, they've called it quits. I've heard that when your knees start hurting, you know your shoes are toast. That never happened to me. It would hurt my thigh and calf general area and a little in my knees, but nothing extraneous. Maybe that's more bad form than dead shoes, but it seemed like a feasible relationship to me. So, a pair of Brooks Launches are headed my way. Until then I'm running exclusively in my Green Silences, which is, well, a challenge for two reasons. One, I'm scared to do a long run in them. That's why I doubled up this weekend instead of going long. an 8 in the morning/ 8 at night double somehow seems better to my feet than an outright 16 miler. Second, I always want to go fast. I find myself walking or jogging pieces of my run not really because I'm tired, but because I'm going way too fast and want to avoid a crash and burn. Obviously, that isn't a problem with tempo runs, but I can't tempo for two weeks straight.

Also, if you didn't think Flotrack was the best running site out there, I present to you floshopping. Enjoy. I lol'ed hard.