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The Brain Bad Chronicles: Look a Dreadmill!

It is amazing how bad my brain is.  I swear, think horrible things, and totally over estimate my on abilities.  Either way, my brain is the biggest obstacle to my running properly and running smartly.  At the same time it keeps me going and yet can drag me down at the worst times.  There was a time…  Hell, it still happens, when my body says enough, please stop.  Yet my brain says, “No, you must keep going.”  Or “It is a day that ends in Y and you have a scheduled run of x miles, go out an do it.  Don’t worry that your leg is only hanging on at the knee by a tab of skin and what ever is left of your knee cap.  Go!”

Of course this is the exact right attitude during a race because there is nothing worse than a DNF, except a DNS.  One day I know it will happen and I have been close to it a couple of times like at the 2008 Cleveland Marathon which was two weeks after I PR’d the Flying Pig Marathon.  I almost turned at the Half turn off and called it a half.  I should have but I didn’t.  I wonder to this day if that would have been called a DNF or an adjustment of race parameters.  We will never know.  Remember, if you find me unconscious on a race course please move me closer to the finish line.  At least kick me in that direction.

Back to present day.  Just wait till we flash forward and sideways and in to alternate realities just like Lost.  I am nursing some injuries aches that have made some of my most recent runs kind of miserable.  My left shin is giving me trouble and my right Achilles is still crappy.  On top of it my right foot is giving me that breaky feeling.  Like it feels like it might be broke but I know that it isn’t, yet.  Either way, I need to take a little rest.

This being said I am in a mini-taper for the Delaware Trail Marathon on 24 April.  That is good because, though stopping running is always bad, stopping running in a training cycle is worse.  I needed some rest because I was not really taking any after running the Shamrock Marathon Whale Challenge on 20-21 March.  So here I am.  I need to take a week off and asses the damage and the recovery before I totally commit.

This is the part where I am listening to my body and not my brain.  You know why?  Because!  Brain Bad!!!!!  I will show you how the brain works on me like a nagging mother.

Instead of running a good long run of 12-15 miles on Sunday I decided to break out the bike and bike over to Kennet Square.  It is not much of a ride.  Maybe 15 miles, but with some big yet rolling hills and my bikes poor gear ratio it would be a challenge.  So when I woke up and started to gear up the Brain said,  “Pack some running shorts and your shoes just in case you want to get out there and make it a Duathlon. ” No!!!!! This is a recovery week.  Not a time to push the boundaries.  Although, the Duathon thing might be a great idea for a later date.  Way to go Brain.  So I thwarted Brain by only packing biking stuff, old shoes, no running socks or shorts and the most cottonny heavy shirt I could find.  Thanks NCN for that one.  Brain still had fits as we passed runners on Rt. 58.  There was one point (mountain) where I had passed a runner at the bottom and as I started heading up I was afraid I was going to be passed by them.  If they were elite I would have been okay with it but come on.  I know I have not been on the bike in over a year but I am not that bad.  Well, it turns out that I wasn’t.  In the end I had a good bike ride and the legs a body felt better for the lower impact work out.

Fast forward to today, because Monday was boring.  So I am getting ready for the day and I usually run on Tuesdays but this week is recovery week.  Just keep repeating it Duff and maybe it will sink in.  Well, I am getting stuff out.  A pair of running shorts, regular shorts, a cotton race shirt, swim suit, towel, my running shoes.  I know what you are thinking.  I am about to go running.  No, that was not the plan.  The plan was Rowing or Elliptical and maybe some swimming.    I posed the question on FaceBook if Elliptical counted as cross training but did not get a definite answer.  Well, I was still thinking rowing because it would be an upper body workout as well.  So there I was, heading into the Y.  It is raining and as I pulled into the parking lot I thought well that settles it I did not really prepare for the rain so running is out.  This is total lie because if I have a pair of running shoes and some shorts then I am totally ready to run in the rain.  But this time Brain was buying it.

Then it happened.  I was walking past the Fitness Center at the Y and saw the treadmill and Brain said, “That’s okay we can just go for a run on the Treadmill.”

Holy shit and Cow Farts!  Did Brain just do that.  It has sacrificed Body and Brain’s mutual hatred for the devil spawn machine, the Dreadmill.  All of that malice discarded just to get a run in.  The shudder that went through my body almost tore my ACL and herniated a disc just to teach Brain a lesson.

Come on!!!  Honestly!!  The Dreadmill.  Is this what we have come to.  Have my cravings for runs become so big that I can no longer avoid the most heinous  device every created.  The next thing you know Brain will suggest heading out with a bunch of Power Walkers to get a recovery run in.  WTF!!!

So here comes the good part.  In my haste to get everything packed this morning and get out the door, I forgot to pack socks.  Not even Brain would run without socks.  That would be a mistake of epic proportions.  So I got dressed and hit the Rowing machine for 30 minutes and 6200m.  A good work out but I still missed running.  I can’t wait till this Saturday when I test the legs out.

In the end, everything I have said in the past is correct.  BRAIN BAD!!!!!!!


I know I owe a lot of race reports.  Trust me I have been composing them in my head but it will take some time to get to them.


Where in the World is Ceasar Rodney: Race Report

So just the week before we found our Champion finishing the CAL and successfully defending his title in the near freezing rain.  And yet another PR.  Well, after returning to Delaware an itch came over me and that was to finally break the 2 hour barrier on the Half Marathon.  If you remember I have come very close in the the Disney Half but was side tracked and missed the mark by 2 minutes.  I also missed by only 36 seconds in at Akron in 2007.  This is half of my only time goal these days and that is a sub 4 hour marathon.  I can’t get to that without breaking 2 for 13.1.   I had such an awesome run at the CAL I knew I was primed to take the Caesar Rodney by storm. 

This is where the brain got in my way again.  What have we detemined in prior posts here, here, and here that brain bad.  I had to get a long run this weekend and 13.1 is not quite a long run.  It is funny how stuff has been redefined.  Just a few years ago 13.1 was way more than a long run.  10 miles was a supreme effort.  Now 13.1 at race pace is not even considered a long run.  A long recovery run?  Maybe but not a long training run.  So I come up with the ultimate plan. 

I had been reading the 50/50 by Dean Karnezes and he mentioned that he does not run because he just enjoys it and that the goal is not just running but something else.  Well, I may have gotten that mixed up but it struck me, because, that is why I run.  Not for races which are awesome but for running.  Well, another thing that Karno has been known to do is run to and from races or park at the start of a point-2-point and run back after finishing.  What an awesome concept.  So here was my plan.

The Half had a 5k that started about an hour before it and the registration was open about an hour before that so I would drive down to Wilmington to register and get my chip and bib and drive back home to rest, gear up, and fuel up.  What a great plan, right.  Step B:  Once geared up, warm up.  So I ran the 3.5 miles to the start of the race from home with the full intentions to run back as a cool down.  It was a nice easy run nothing hard and a little down hill.  No issue.  Part 3:  Rock the race with PR.  How could I go wrong. 

Well, the first hiccup was that it was a little chilly and rainy and that would make things a little tougher when it came to that time between warm up and race.  The second is last week I pulled my quad a little and was not quite at 100%.  No matter.  I stepped out the door and took off down the road.  It was real funny as I got closer to Downtown Wilmington and started seeing other runners.  As I got to the start line there were some drinks (water and gatorade) from the 5k so I re-hydrated before the race started.  With the rain I was already getting wet and it was warming up so I was starting to over heat a little.  Not a big deal though. 

A little shaking and moving kept me warmed up and I gathered at the start line and waited for the “Boom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  I mean it could wake the dead in death valley the start cannon was so damn loud.  I was warned and I still jumped and took off like a greyhound.  Okay more like a Basset Hound but still it made me jump.   As with all races with defined start lines with chip mats there start line shuffle/walk/shuffle started.  So I hit the start line and I was at least at a run.  Then came the down hill weaving to the river front.  I had once again placed myself in a slower section.  The issue was that with a small field I that was only about 10 feet difference.  Either way I was on the hunt for a PR.  I remember hitting the first mile mark in the low 8s and things couldn’t feel better.  At this point is where the course started to double back and I saw the gazelles.  Those guys are fast. 

For the most part the most eventful part of the first 6 miles was not much.  The part that irked a little was after the time split at mile 1, that was it till mile 6.  All I knew at that point was that there were some hills to contend with and I needed to conserve a little before hitting them.  The other issue was that rain had stopped and it was warming up. 

When I hit the 6 mile mark I realized that try as I might, I was still not holding back.  At the same time I was primed and in time to PR and break the 2 hour mark.  I could not believe it then.  So many times have I actually broken the 2 hour mark in longer races.  Actually, if there were a split in the CAL 30k I would have shattered my PR and been hard pressed to better it.  But now, less than half way to the finish line I was on pace. 

Then it hit.  The first real hill.  It was was up to toward Tower Hill School.  It was not steep but it was long.  I mean real long.  It went up about a mile and turned level before heading up another hill for about half a mile before the worst of it, heading back down.  On top of it all most of the hill was a double back on the course so I got to see others coming back at me.  At this point I realized that running back home after the finish may not be a good idea.  The real good news is the turn around at the top of the hill is only a mile from home and Space and Rae were there.  I threw my now soaked over-shirt to them and informed Space that I need to be picked up at the finish. 

You could say that after all that up hill it would have been all down hill from there but, you could be wrong.  You are wrong.  Why?  Because the down hill ends below the finish line.  It was like the race directors took classes at Evil School (UVa or OSU) because there came a near wall that lasted for two blocks before the finish.  The finish was actually about 100 meters of flat but after running a hilly course for 13 miles the up hills can kill, the down hills show some relief but the flats just feel like up hills. It can mess with your head.  I think I need to bring a level to make sure whether I am going up, down, or straight. 

In any case I got to the top and saw just what I wanted to see.  I had approximately 7 minutes to cover the final 100meters to break 2 hours.  I gave it one last heave and there it was.  1:53:24.  Awesome.  According to my splits, I actually sped up on the last half of the race which was even better.  I was spent and needed liquid bad.  What a fantastic day just about the running and the medal and PR were just icing on the already great cake. 

I don’t know hos Caesar Rodney is but he put on a nice half marathon and on top of that it was a great primer for the Delaware Marathon.  If only I could learn from the course I had run.  Either way, PR baby!!!!!!!

Running for Recovery (Racing)

Well, I have been running lightly for the past month and things are working out very well.  No real long miles but I have been keeping things as consistent as possible. 

Lately I have been running in Valley Forge National Park.  This is 5.5 mile loop of agonizing hills and valleys.  There is the one point where there is flat.  At the end.  Really there are a few more flats that last for a few feet before we are back up or down a hill.  This course is nothing like what I am used to in Cleveland.  It is awesome.  There are a google of dear in the park and they just about tame.  Kind of dangerous but I am sure I can swerve out of the way even at my blistering speeds.  I have also discovered a 1.3 mile loop at Brandywine Park in Wilmington.  This is nice and shaded with some challenging terain like brick paths and steps.  A lot of fun and with a small loop I can go as many times as I like or as time permits. 

Either way the training for recovery is going great.  Just this last tuesday evening at ran at the Valley Forge NP.  I had again forgotten to take my good and long time friends, Advil.  But I ran reletively pain free.  This is phenomenal.  The hip is mended and the shin splints are gone.  The best part of it was that I had not realized it till after I was finished with the run.  The only bad part was that it was 92F out and I hate the heat.  It just saps everything out of you and then you just stop.  There were a few times were the sweat seemed to stop and I got worried but then it started back at full force.  It was so bad that my chemically enhanced, specifically designed and over engineered (cleveland marathon 07) techshirt was soaked through and over load to the point of no longer able to keep up.  It was like I had a salty water fall inside of my shirt.  At one point I decided it was time to show the ladies (and men) on the course my rippling abs and oddly shaped pects.  I took my shirt off.  I am sure they were in awe or at least shock.  As each foot strike showed the aftershock waves moving through my body.  After about a mile of that I decided that they had enough, for now, and put the shirt back on.  Either way, it was a good yet exhausting run.  Just what I needed.

It was so good that I had a thought.  I know, I know what have we all said about those thoughts.  Brain Bad!!!  Come on though my body is telling me the same thing.  Klatu, Verata, Necrumpha..#@$! Okay, maybe not exactly those exact words but I got the general gist of it.  Body was saying “You don’t hurt and that is good.”  And Brain is saying.  “Oh, it’s on.”  Body’s screams are muffled out by Rocky’s “Gonna Fly Now” 

So I look up the races and there they are.  I think it is time to get that 5k in.  I am realistic about this.  I know I won’t put up a PR but it will be fun getting out there and mixing it up and I am sure I can smoke someone in a much higher age group.  Perhaps if I push them to the ground shortly after the start of the race.  🙂  I will let you know how it goes.  Besides I haven’t collected a race shirt in over two months.

Running for Recovery (my recovery)

Well, as I stated in my last post I injured myself real bad at the Cleveland marathon.  I decided to listen to my body for once and took the month of June off.  Well most of it.

I swam every couple of days.  This was fine it was no impact and got the blood a pumping.  I am sure it helped a little.  I also used that cursed elliptical machine.  It is great in some respects but I hate it.  It just stands there and I get the view of the wall.  I guess I could go to the one with a TV in front of it but that is not what I am looking for when I run or exercise.  When I run I love seeing the things I go by.  I attempt to pay attention to where my foot is striking.  It is part of the challenge to avoid the uncertainties of the road or trail.  Of course I don’t do a very good job of that.  I lost count of how many times I have turned and ankle, or slipped on ice.  I recover and move on.  This the fun part.  There is also that breeze or lack of one.  The three-way wind is part of that joy of running. And what is up with those hills on the display screen.  The up hills are definitely up but the down hills are just less up hill.  What good is running if you cannot make those quads burn and the shins strain.

Either way, the elliptical was my substitute for running in during my Saturday Morning Triathalon.  The stability ball class and Aqua social hour were still in full effect.  The stunning part is that Josie let me off the hook during my injury.  I should get injured more often so I don’t have to do V’s or the like.  Those things are killer.

Well, lets say this 3 week period (maybe it was 4) seemed like 3 months.  I was itching to get back into the run.  I am sure Space could have attested to my irritability.  It was like climbing walls but on a bad hip.  I couldn’t stop thinking about going running and I woke up many nights just wanting to go out for a jog.  Anything to scratch the itch. 

And then…  I went running. 

I must say it was not the best.  I went to the track and did two mile repeats with some easy laps in between.  My legs were on fire.  They had not moved like that in several weeks and the blood rushing to the surface was very irritating.  Either way it worked.  In that time I have been adding the mileage gradually and all is good.

A few things of note:

  • My speed was gone.  It was weird to put in same effort or more and find out that you ran a very slow 5k. 
  • With the injury to the right leg my strides are different for each leg.  I had to concentrate to get them into some sort of symmetry.
  • With regards to speed, I have found that I have lost some control.  I need to gear back on my runs to a slower pace but my speedometer is broke. 
  • Biking has taken the place of my long Sunday runs till I get back into those miles.  It is nice but I see so many runners out and it pains me.  Fear not brothers I will be rejoining you.
  • Walking good.  Running through the pain is satisfying but as bad as listening to the brain.  I ain’t proud.
  • Walking bad.  I feel better when I am running (or walking during a run).  When I am walking around during the day everything hurts.  The stride and foot strike is just too different.
  • Races come and go but my Athletic Supports are forever.  (thanks Tupac)

I am sure there is more to this but my recovery is on.  Just bring it.

The Tour De Cleveland: Cleveland Marathon Race Report

Where do I begin.  I am just a glutton for punishment.  I had a fantastic race and yet another success of a marathon.  That is the best most positive way to put it.  The more accurate way to describe it is to say I should have run the half marathon instead.  Two weeks rest after the Flying Pig Marathon is just not enough.  I thought I was ready and I was not.

It all started rather odd.  I was one of the last to cross the start line.  I accidentally got separated from my Athletic Supporters and still had my gear and gym bag with me when I crossed that start line.  At one point I was willing to run the entire marathon with the bag strapped across my chest.  Space was reading “Ultramarathon Man” so that was in the bag and if I needed it I could have pulled it out and read for a little inspiration.  I got lucky though.  About 100 meters after the start line Space and Rae were there and I tossed the bag in their direction.  I will learn from that mistake and ensure that I do not loose track of my Athletic Supporters in the future.  They are what keeps the team together.

Well, there I was at the very back of the pack.  This was obviously too slow so I weaved my way through the crowd at a blistering pace.  I was putting up some killer miles in the low 8 to high 7 minute range.  I passed the 5:30 pace group and about a mile later I passed the 4:15 pace group.  I could see the the 4 hour pace group just ahead.  So I pushed.  I passed the 4:00 pace group just before the 10k mark.  What a great feeling.  I was moving and I still had a lot left.  That would be end of that mess.  Just remember, when running a marathon and you get that feeling of euphoria.  Don’t worry, it will pass.  I looked down after I went past the 10k timing “mat” and saw that our new timing system tag was coming loose from my shoe.  So I pulled off to readjust the tag so it would not inadvertently come off during the race.

Lets see here.  We have these champion chip systems that have been proven and are well accepted by the racing community.  Then comes the Chrono Track system that has only been used in select races with very little success  See Complete Running for an update.  This “D-tag” is held together with a pressure sensitive adhesive where the champion chip is a mechanical lock.  I am an adhesive chemist and love the idea of the technology being advanced but it was not ready.  I initially attached my tag to my shoe in the rain.  Did I forget to mention that the race started in the rain.  A very good thing except for the soggy shoes.  Well through a lack of forethought the adhesive did not hold.  When I realized it was loose it had stopped raining and I hoped that is was going to hold when I stuck it back together and tucked in under my laces.  A mile later I looked down and found that it was loose again.  I pulled off and worked at it and eventually I took pin from my number and ran it through.  That did the trick.  I had lost about 7-10 minutes and the stopping like that killed the pace and rhythm I had going.  This was the start of my misstride and tight calf muscles.  Lets not forget the timing mats were about a millimeter short of speed bumps made of plastic that were slippery in the rain.  How about that.  My rant is over.  I think.

After that was through, I passed the 4 hour pace group for the third time of the day.  Things were going along real nice.  My Athletic Supporters met me right before the 1/2 marathon turn off were I exchanged caps and dropped off my gloves.  My knee was bothering me and at the turn off I thought how nice it would be to cut it short.  I went on and that was the second mistake of the day.

I got to the half point in under 2 hours and I was real happy but then I zonked.  My left calf was real tight and my right knee was really hurting.  For brief moment I thought about those fatal letters.  DNF.  Then I came to my senses.  My brain was telling me to keep going.  I must prove that I can do this.  My body will adapt.  Of course it will I have trained through ice storms.  Over bad terrain.  In a blizzard.  With a turned ankle.  All of that I can run with a little knee pain.  Body be damned I am stronger than that.  So I kept running and the 4 hour pace group passed me for the third and final time.  It was okay.  This was not about time it was about finishing.

The next 13 miles were hidious.  The pain was not really that bad but my stride was completly undone.  My left leg was mostly in my standard stride and foot strike but my right was kind of limping and I was favoring it to try and take some impact off of my knee.  This whole thing just put more stress on my hips.  What at disaster.  On and on I went.

At mile 20, a guy passed by and asked if I was at the Flying Pig Marathon two weeks earlier.  I guess there are very few people in Virginia Tech bike jerseys that are running marathons.  I affirmed my participation.  He had run in the relay in Cincy.  We discussed a few items of note and he encouraged me on in my insanity.  From that point I kind of kept him as my pacer and never lost site.  Thanks Dude.

Well, four hours and nineteen minutes later I completed my 4th marathon in one year.  With the 4:02 I ran in Cincy I have cut 40 minutes from my time.  Fantastic.    I could not be prouder of what I have accomplished. I am nursing that knee and hip injury and am eager to start my running again.   The funny part about this whole thing is if you look back at my training log I cut runs out or short because I was a little injured or fatigued.  I was smart and listened to my body.  When I get into a race and that good sense turns off.  I am about never having a DNF on my record but I need to have better judgment about crazy stuff like this.  Thanks Cleveland for putting on another great race.  Just drop that Chono Track idiocy next time.

The Road to Cleveland: What is an extra hour?

What am I doing.  I just ran the Flying Pig on Sunday yet I felt I was ready to go on a shake down run on Thursday.

As per the usual I went swimming on Monday to work things out and I did the same on Tuesday.  It is good no impact work to get the lactic acid out and stay active.  I should have done the same today but no.  A larger booming voice rang in my ears, “I MUST GO RUNNING!”   So I did.

I knew I would not put a fast pace.  I knew parts of me would be sore but really could they be that bad.  Four miles and off to work.  There I was kind of shaking out my legs and I take the first stride.  Not good but it is just warming up.  Down the street and still stiff and my Right calf is screaming.  Brain says it will warm up.  Brain is wrong.

Half way through I think about my training.  I went on plenty of 20 mile runs then ran just two days later for some tempo run or something like that.  Those were never the best runs but they were okay.  26.2 miles is not that much more and I waited 4 days.  6.2 miles more and twice the recovery time.  I should be good.

What is an extra hour of running anyway?  I have gone out running with no plan and run for a couple of hours with no issue.  An extra hour of running is all I did last Sunday.  No issue, right?  What was I thinking.  I wasn’t thinking.  An extra hour is an extra 20miles.  Lance Armstrong was told before his first New York Marathon that the first 20 miles is the first half of the marathon.  Oh so very true.

So here I go.  Thinking I only ran another 6.2 miles or an extra hour.  Thinking that I should be able to lace up and sprint out the door of the Y like I was a teenager again.  Thinking I knew better than my body did.  That was the most awful 4 miles of my life.  I ran through blizzards, in -10F weather, in down pours, on hurt feet(you got to finish a race), with a belly full of soda.  Those pale in comparison to running during a recovery period.  This is not the way to be ready for the Cleveland Marathon in 1.5 weeks.

I think I will concentrate on ignoring my brain and listening to my body.  Of course I am sure Space said something to me about not running too soon but I probably wasn’t listening to her either.  Brain Bad, Body and Wife good.

Heres to the next week of recovery and developing a fool proof plan.  Remember that, I am a special type of fool.