Quite a few people have asked me about how my marathon endeavor is progressing so here's an update on the first 2 months of slogging my way around the streets of Los Altos.....
The "official training program" kicks off next week but I decided that given my incredibly low level of fitness it would be a good idea to get some pre-training training done in advance, with the hope of not being the slowest person in the group.
So on April 2nd, in my gleamingly white new shoes, I set off to run for 3 miles. It wasn't what I would call graceful, in fact it was downright ugly, but I did it without throwing up which was my primary objective. 3 days later I ran another 3 miles: a little better that time, but my knees didn't feel great. Another 3 days later I ran 5 miles (no-one has ever told me that I'm patient). After that my knees complained violently and 3 days later my run was more of a walk. I decided to take a week off and see if they got with the program. They didn't.
So I went to the sports clinic in Palo Alto who told me I had "Jumper's Knee". Usually caused by overuse, running/jumping on hard/uneven surfaces, weak leg muscles, poor stretching, or cheap shoes. OK, so I was guilty of 4 out of 5 . Up next was 10 days without running, plenty of ice/ibuprofen and lots of stretching exercises.
At the end of April I started again, with 4 miles on soft surfaces - and it was OK. So I started running 4-5 times a week and upped the miles on Saturdays to a maximum of 10 (which was OK but I wouldn't have wanted to keep going for another 16.2). I'm now running 25-30 miles a week and biking about 20 - I even ran on vacation and in the rain. I'm getting faster (but I started really slow....) and am able to run at increasingly lower heart rates, which is all good.
The jumper's knee is just about gone but now I have a little bit of "Runner's Knee". I'm encouraged that at least I now have an injury related to the correct sport. Less encouraging is some information from the web that runner's knee is very common among 10-20 year old girls. So I guess I'm now running like a teenage girl.
I'm definitely running faster than "they" recommend for new runners, and I'm ramping the miles more quickly than I should, which probably explains the injuries. However, I believe that if you want to be good at something you need to do it as much and as fast as you can and you'll get better. (I expect some different opinions during the official training program....)
I have tons of data and analysis of each run (thanks to my GPS watch) and can see the improvement as I train more. If I continue to progress like I have so far I should be able to finish this thing. However, my initial goal (based on zero real data) of doing the marathon in 4 hours looks to be quite challenging. That means doing it all at 9 minute 10 second miles. I can do a couple at 9 minutes but my best "long" run to date was about 6.2 miles and that was at a pace that would have me finishing in 4:14 (a pace of 9:40). So I just need to take 30 seconds off each mile and be able to keep going for an extra 20 miles, plus deal with the heat of hawaii and running up/down hills.
We'll see how it goes, but after 2 months of this I'm now really impressed that Oprah Winfrey ran a marathon in 4:28.
On the fundraising side things are going much better. I'm way past the minimum required, so that means I have to run this thing now. I'm not yet at my goal of $10,000 but I'm getting there.
Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far. For those that still want to donate you can do this securely online here.... http://www.aidsmarathon.com/participant.asp?runner=SF-4071&EventCode=HN06
If this update has inexplicably left you wanting more information about my runs, you can see all the grisly details of my exploits at the following very cool (but usually mind numbingly slow) website http://afletche.motionbased.com/
And finally, if you like gadgets, and are looking for something to waste some money on, I'd really recommend the GPS/heart monitor I use http://www.garmin.com/products/forerunner305/