Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - A Year in 2 Parts

So the graph above pretty much says it all. The first seven months were excellent, with a big PR in the Edinburgh marathon (3:06) and some solid months of running (peak at 429 in July). If things had continued I would have had a shot of meeting some of my 2008 race goals (all of which I missed, many by a long margin). But that's how it goes. Sports hernias took care of the next 4 months and August thru November saw nothing but painful, slow and finally some recovery miles. December has been much better, and I feel I am getting back on track.

For 2009, I have similar goals to those from last year:

  1. Goal
  2. Stretch Goal
  3. Super Stretch Goal
  1. sub 3 hour [DONE 10/11 2:58:13]
  2. sub 2:55 - not attempted
  3. sub 2:50 - not attempted
Half Marathon
  1. sub 1:27 [DONE 3/16 - 1:25:28]
  2. sub 1:25 [DONE 7/26 - 1:23:47]
  3. sub 1:20 - not attempted
  1. sub 40 [DONE 4/23 - 38:38, 11/15 - 38:22, 11/26 - 38:07]
  2. sub 38 - attempted twice
  3. sub 36 - not attempted
  1. sub 19 [DONE 3/9 - 18:53, 9/27 - 18:23, 12/5 - 18:13]
  2. sub 18 - attempted twice
  3. sub 17:30 - not attempted
  1. sub 5:30 - [DONE 12/12 - 5:02* (downhill!) ]
  2. sub 5:15 - [DONE 12/12 - 5:02* (downhill!) ]
  3. sub 5:00 - attempted once
I have a pretty solid plan laid out to get me though the end of May and the Ottawa marathon (This should allow me to meet most of the first goals for each distance). Beyond that I have a somewhat softer plan, that has me doing either New York in November or Cal International in December. If training is going well and I have a realistic chance to hit my 2:55 or 2:50 goals I expect I'll shoot for CIM as NY is not a particularly fast course. I'll have plenty of chances to do half marathons along the way, not sure exactly when I am going to fit in the 10k, 5k and mile races.

One other thing for training this year is that I am going to take more recovery days. I am thinking that if I do that I can perhaps avoid taking 3-4 months of like the last couple years.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Back to the Track #2

Track workout today.  Time for some more 1200 meter repeats.  3 hard laps then 90 seconds jog/recovery.  Do that 4 times, trying to do the 1200s in 4:45, which is 6:22 minutes/mile.

Perfect weather - no wind, low/mid 40's, bright blue sky.  It was busier than usual, with a couple people walking aimlessly around the track and a couple people running laps but nothing I couldn't dodge around.
  • First 1200 was 4:38 with heartrate averaging 163 and peaking at 174
  • Second 1200 was 4:35 with HRs of 157/175
  • Third 1200 was 4:43 with HRs of 170/180 (started way too fast on this one, and paid for it)
  • Fourth 1200 was 4:38 with HRs of 172/180
Average of 4:39, so I was happy with being 6 seconds faster than plan (and 12 seconds faster than last week).  I always think that if you can't hit the last one on pace then you have screwed up the workout.  Next week I'll add one more repetition so it will be 5x1200 at 4:45.

Overall things are going really well.  I've run the last 5 days thru wind, rain, sunshine and mud and done 2 good workouts (short tempo on Tuesday and today's track session).  Some easy miles tomorrow then a new long run (probably up to 13) on Sunday.  Should bring me close to 50 for the week.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Double Digits!

Ran a hilly 11.5 miler this morning - my first double digit run since early August.  A cold start (for California) at about freezing, but it was sunny and there was no wind so it was still shorts weather.  A Nice gentle climb for the first 3 1/2 miles and it hits the trails of Rancho San Antonio with a pretty silly mile to get up to 1,100'. Then it's a longer downhill down through the reserve before dropping back out onto the roads at about 7 miles.  A beautiful run, with some amazing views of the bay.

The steep mile was much too steep for me to run so it was a run/walk section (which was at a pretty pedestrian 14 minute pace....)

Felt pretty good on the run, but that big hill definitely kicked my butt.  Mind you, I wouldn't have been running all the way up that even when I was fit.

For the first time post surgery I can feel a little ache down below, so I think I may have been a little too aggressive these past 2-3 weeks.  I've run 17 out of the last 19 days and have done a tempo run, speedwork and a long hill run in just the last 4 days.  That would have been tough even when I was in shape.

Time to ease off a little bit I think and plan a slightly easier week over Christmas and then it'll be 2009.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back to the Track!

First post surgery run at the track today.  Put on my (dusty) light weight shoes and jogged the 1/2 mile down to the high school track.  Perfect conditions: low 40's, no wind and pitch black (so no-one could see me).

Plan was 4x1200 meters in 5:00 (6:42 min/mile) with 90 seconds recovery jog in between.  Back in June I was doing these 1200s around 4:30 (~6:00 min/mile).  I guestimated fitness and pace based on yesterday's tempo run but it was not very scientific.
  • Number 1 wasn't bad, got on pace quickly and did 4:57.
  • Number 2 went a little quicker at 4:52.
  • Number 3 started too fast (1:32 first lap vs 1:40) which hurt, but I held on to come in at 4:53.
  • Number 4 was 3:11 thru 2 laps and then I went for it on the last lap and did a 91 sec lap to finish in 4:42 (or 6:20 min/mile).
Average for the 4 was 4:51, so I am a little fitter than I guesstimated, and it felt great to be running fast on the track.  Although I am about 20 seconds off my pre-injury times.

So next time I will shoot for 4:45 and probably go up to 5x, which I suspect make it difficult for me to get thru reps #4 and #5 on pace.  Then I'll take 1 sec/lap off when I'm able to hit the last one on pace and I'll also up the reps to 6x at some point.  I'm guessing that I should be able to get to 6x1200 at 4:30 by about March (Shamrock) and closer to 4:20 by May (Ottawa).

Next up: my first double digit run this Saturday.

It's good to be back.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

8 Weeks and All Clear!

So I have been set free!  My last visit to the Doctor was this afternoon, and I am officially good to go.  He was still pleased with the progress and as long as I remain sensible in my mileage and speed buildup he expects me to get completely back to where I was.

So now I set my sights on the future.  Big goal is Ottawa marathon which is 23 1/2 weeks away.  I plan to use the next 5 1/2 weeks building up my mileage to about 60, gradually adding more fast workouts and extending the long run to about 15 miles.  Then I can still fit in an 18 week training plan. the Kaiser half and Shamrock half along the way will be useful to assess fitness.  It all looks doable and I have a chance to get into reasonable shape for the marathon.

Now my weight is an entirely different matter.  I was at a low of 143 when I was running lots back in July, I hit a peak of 159 this month.  That's 16 pounds......  I looked back at my weight gain/drop when I was last off running and noticed that it was about 8-9 weeks after I started running that my average weight peaked, and 13 weeks before I was back at the starting weight.  It took 17 weeks to lose 2.5 pounds and then it dropped off pretty consistently at just under 1 lb/week.

So if I lay out last times miles/weight (top chart) and compare with this time (top chart) I can get a projected weight trend (the blue dots).  I should get back under 150 for the Shamrock half, and could be back to the mid 140s for Ottawa. Good news is that I won't peak until Xmas, so I can keep eating!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

7 weeks

Another week of recovery has gone by and things continue to go well and fitness is slowly returning - and I do mean sloooowwwwllllyyyyyy.  

My long run is now up to 7.5 miles, plus I ran a few strides (accelerate for ~10 seconds and then hold that top speed for ~10 seconds) during my run last night and everything felt great.

I am planning to go for 9 miles sometime this weekend, and will probably do a mile or two at a slightly faster pace (7:00 ish) sometime in the next 7 days.

Then it's hopefully my final checkup and signoff by the doc next Wednesday and I'm back!

I should have just enough time to get into OK shape for Kaiser, which is now only 7 1/2 weeks away.  I would love to be able to run somewhere in mid/low 1:30s but I won't know how likely that is until I can get back to running some faster miles and seeing how it all hangs together.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

2009 Race Planning

Now I may be counting my chickens, but since recovery is going well I've started looking to 2009 races.  I won't be fit in time for a good showing at Boston (April) so I'm going to skip that and instead shoot for Ottawa at the end of May.  That should give me enough time to get back into fighting shape to go for a "good time" (exact goal still to be determined.....)

Building up to that full marathon I have two halves planned...
1) Kaiser Half on Superbowl Sunday (2/1) in San Francisco
2) Shamrock'n'Half on 3/15 in Sacramento

I've run both of these before and I like the races.  I'm hoping to not embarass myself at Kaiser and if things go well, set a new PR at Shamrock.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

6 weeks down

It is now 6 weeks since I had my surgery and my recovery is continuing to go very well.  Here's the stats from the last 7 days of running.....
  • Ran 5 out of  7 days, including 3 days in a row
  • Total of just over 25 miles
  • Long run of 6.6 miles
  • 1 very hilly run
  • Ran a mile at 7 minute pace
  • Ran a half mile at 6:35 pace
So it's going well - no pain or problems so far!  I revisit the doc 2 weeks from today, so until then I plan to run everyday unless I feel like taking a day off.  I'll try to stay in the 5-7 mile range althoug I may stretch it a little one day on the weekend, and I'm going to add in a few 100 meter strides once a week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Measurable Progress

Ok - I have measurable progress!  The chart on the left shows each of my runs (1 dot = 1 run, size of the dot = length of the run).  It's Heartrate/speed on the Y axis, and date on the X axis.  Lower is better - i.e. your heartrate is lower for a given speed, or you can run faster for a given heartrate.

The blue rectangle on the left is pre-surgery, post marathon, when I was fit.  At my fittest I was running high 17's for HR/speed.  The purple box in the middle is when I decided to get a little back into shape pre surgery.  You can see how quickly progress is made.

The red circle shows my first tentative post-surgery runs; they were all 1-2 miles and pretty slow (9ish pace).

The last 5 runs I have started to stretch things out a little. I'm up to 4 miles and running around 8 minute pace.  The data shows a nice little cluster right around 20.

Looking back over my training log I can see that I can get from >20 to under 18 pretty easily in about 3 months, so I'll just follow a similar plan to that time.

Spoke to my doctor today, and he is encouraged by the progress and lack of pain at the injury site.  He was also happy (and a little surprised I think) that I have kept it slow and only gradually increased miles.  I have some tightness in the inner thigh muscles, but he wasn't worried about that.  He wants another 3 weeks of running first.  Although it's only 5 weeks since surgery he was fairly confident that I should make a 100% recovery.  I see him again on December 17th.

Plus, had my first rainy run today - it was good to get out in the rain and mud again.  It was also my first time running two days in a row since early August.  So fingers crossed, it's all looking good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Still Going

Things continue to progress, albeit fairly slowly.  I'm running every 2-3 days and am now up to 3.5 miles!  Still pretty slow stuff, although I did manage to dip under 8 minute pace the other day for a mile or so - and nothing burst out of my abdomen like something from Alien.  Surgery seems to be healing well, fitness is still noticeably absent, but I don't expect that to really change while only running 5-10 easy miles per week.

I'm going to try 4-5 runs this week, which will mean some two-days-in-a-row runs.  We'll see how that goes, but if there are no issues I'll try for 5-6 days next week, and then 6-7 the week after.  I am tentatively planning to try some strides (100 metre runs at a "fast" pace) on the 10th, which will be 7 weeks after surgery. 

Then I revisit the doc on the 17th, when he will hopefully declare me "cured" and I can start working on the next injury.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Slow, Steady Progress

This whole, common sense and patience thing is really no fun.  I've now run 4 times, or every other day since last Friday.  I hit a long of 2.3 miles yesterday, at a blistering 8:42 pace.  It's weird to get ready to run, go out and then be back home within 15-20 minutes.  I'm used to going out for 2+ hours.

But things seem to be progressing well.  No pain from running, which is really all I'm asking at this point.  I'll keep the every other day schedule for a while and keep slowly building up the mileage. If I'm up to 5 miles most days by the first week of December I'll be happy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The road back...

I saw Dr. Brown today for my post surgery followup.  He went through the surgery pictures with me and showed me what he did.  It turns out that I'd only ripped the first two layers of muscle on each side, not all three.

Overall he was happy with the recovery although the bruising was worse than normal.  The good news is that he OK'd me to start some easy running. Nothing fast, and nothing far.  Just an easy 8-10 minute mile.  He said that if it hurts I should stop.  If I need to sit on the couch and recover for an hour afterwards I need to take a day off.  If it's OK then I can slowly increase the distance and see how it goes.  I need to let common sense be my guide, which may be a problem.....

So I went out and ran late this afternoon.  Just an easy mile and a bit round the neighborhood.  I didn't have any pain in the surgery area and it felt far more comfortable than my last pre-surgery run.  So it looks like it has been successful.

Fitness is a completely different matter.  I am pretty out of shape.  One of the key metrics I use is to look at my average heartrate for a run, divided by my average speed (miles per hour).  As fitness increases this decreases.  Obviously longer runs, and hilly runs can skew the data but I find it a reasonable measure of fitness when trended over time.  Here's a chart that shows how it has been since early August (when I was in the best shape of my life).

To explain the numbers consider a 10k race (6.2 miles).  If I run one of these I can pretty much expect my average heartrate to be about 170-172.  If my fitness (HR/speed) is at it's pre-surgery peak of 18 my speed would be 9.55 mph, which is 6:17 mins/mile, so 39:03 for a 10k. That's the kind of shape I was in (although I never actually ran a 10k that fast...).  At my post surgery fitness level of 21 that same 10k would be at 8.2 mph, which is 7:20 mins/mile, or 45:34 for the 10k.  So I have my work cut out to get back up to speed!

The plan is to run 3 days and then add 1/2 mile to the distance.  All slow miles in the 8-10 min/mile range.  That will be the routine for the next 4 weeks.  If that goes well I will be up to 5 miles by my birthday (November 29th), which will be about 6 weeks post surgery.

If that goes well, I can start thinking about adding in some faster and longer stuff. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2 Weeks Done

It's been 2 weeks since the surgery, so 1 more week of walking before I can start "jogging and gentle running in straight lines".  I'm still not sure exactly what that it 100 yards at 12 min pace or is that 10 miles at 8 min pace?  I am seeing my Doctor on Firday for a post-surgery checkup so will get his input.

Swelling has pretty much subsided, bruising is still there but beginning to change from black to red/yellow.  I guess another couple weeks before that is fully gone.  No ibuprofen for the last 5 days so I'm officially through the painful phase.  Walking is pain free (depending on what I'm wearing) and sleeping is no longer uncomfortable.

So overall it's been good progress this last week.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Major milestones!

Just sneezed and it didn't hurt! This may not sound like much but I sneezed Monday and it made my eyes water. Plus, this without any ibuprofen. Also last night was the first time I could sleep on my side.

So things are looking good. Before too long I'll be back out running - ready to break something else.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recovery So Far

It's been five days since surgery and things are going well.
  • Wednesday (surgery day) was pretty easy as all I did was sit on my butt and I was still pumped full of drugs from the hosiptal. 
  • Thursday went OK. I didn't take any hardcore pain killers, just 4 ibuprofen every 6 hours.  Walked round the block 3 times, albeit slowly and a little hunched over.
  • Friday was pretty much like Thursday, but I was walking like a 60 year old vs an 80 year old.
  • Saturday I went down to 2 ibuprofen every 8 hours and walked for about 2 miles total.
  • Sunday was just 2 ibuprofen at 9am and 2 before bed.  Walking up to 3 miles, with a reasonably normal stride.
  • Today I'm back at work and feel pretty normal.  Still definitely slow and I get athe occasional sharp pain, especially when I move after sitting for a while, but overall it's going really well.
Swelling is down, but the bruising is out of control.  Everything (and I mean everything) from the stitches down is black.  Doesn't hurt at all but looks really freakish (sorry, no pictures of that are coming!).  Apparently it's pretty common after hernia surgery and goes away in a couple weeks.

Next 2 weeks are all easy stuff.  Just walking 3-4 times/day, and I can start some gentle stretching.  I need to go have a followup exam just to check that it's all looking OK, will probably do that early next week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The details

Time for a surgery recap for those of you that like that kind of thing......  It is a reasonably simple surgery since it doesn't involve cutting through or near any major organs, muscles etc.  Because I had a bilateral hernia (both sides) he recommended general anaesthesia VS local with sedation.  He's the expert so that's what I did.  Went under about 9:30am and came round in recovery about 11.  He took pictures for me, and this is apparently what happend during those lost 90 minutes.

First shot is the left side after the initial opening.  The cut is about 1 1/2 inches to give you some idea of scale.  The stuff outlined in green is my insides and really shouldn't be visible!  There are two layers of muscle wall that I've torn through to do that.

Next shot shows the stitching for the lower layer.  This should keep the inside bits inside, where they belong.  He prefers to do this type of open surgery with real sutures instead of going laproscopic and using mesh.  Sutures are more effective in guarenteeing things are closed and you don't have to deal with any potential side effects of having mesh inside you.  Also, as you are open he can see exactly where the issue is and remove anything else that shouldn't be these.  In my case I had a lipoma (buildup of fatty tissue) on each side which he took out.  These occur about 50% of the time with hernias and are another cause of pain, so I'm glad they are gone.

This one shows the final stitches in the top flap of muscle wall.  That bit at the bottom of the picture, held out of the way by the yellow/white strap is my spermatic cord (sounds important to me).  They pull that out to avoid cutting it by accident!

This one is the left side all stitched up - final scar is just over 1 inch long.

The right side was pretty much the same, here's a picture that shows the right lipoma!  This was over an inch long and couldn't have been helping me all that much.  The body is definitely a weird thing.

Recovery is going well.  There is swelling, which is going down a little, and plenty of bruising.  I have a percocet prescription but so far have just been taking ibuprofen.  Doctor is surprised that I am not needing anything stronger but says that it's fine if I'm OK with it.  I really don't want to be completely drugged out on painkillers, so will try to keep going with just the vitamin I.  Right now it feels like a dull ache, which to be honest is how most of my long runs felt for the last few months.  I'm meant to do a little walking if I feel up to it, so will be doing a few laps of the block today.

So it looks it's all been successful, and I am on track for a reasonably manageable recovery period.  Gonna spend today/tomorrow at home but back to work Monday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All done

So it's all done. It went smoothly and I was out of the hospital by 12:15. Doesn't feel too bad, just an ache like I've been kicked in the goolies. Of course, I am still full of drugs from the surgery so we'll see how I feel when that wears off.

Doctor gave me a DVD with pictures so I'll post some tomorrow so that inquiring minds can see for themselves.

Probably not going to run this afternoon......

45 minutes.....

At the hospital, all checked in, should be going to the prep room in about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

All Set

Only 18 hours to go! Surgery is at 9:30 tomorrow morning.  It's usually about 40 minutes, but presumably will take a little longer since I have managed to mess myself up so well.  Should be out of the hospital by about 2 if all goes according to plan.

I am ready with my prescribed percocet but am quietly hoping that I can get by using ibuprofen.  I guess I'll find out sometime tomorrow evening when the anaesthetic wears off and the pain starts.

This is what it should look like in there.  The doctor needs to join these two bits back together.  In my case this is on both sides, plus I've managed to get through the next couple layers too, so bits of me are poking out.  He has to put all that back inside first.  Seems quite messy but I'm sure he knows where it's all supposed to go!

Weight hit a new high today at 154.0.  Up 10.6 pounds from my low in July.  I've almost plateau'd since starting to run 3 times a week, but I expect to start picking up again post surgery.  Looks like I need to eat (or maybe drink) a little less.

Friday, October 17, 2008


So I finally saw Dr. William Brown this morning, and he confirmed that not only do I have a bilateral sports hernia (tear in the top layer of the abdominal wall/oblique muscles) but I have also managed to tear through the next two layers to add a couple of regular inguinal hernias. (I guess running 430 miles in July wasn't quite such a good idea after all....).  These are the ones where your intestines start to poke out through the holes in your muscles. Pretty good stuff eh?

Good news is that he can fix it all the same way at the same time and it doesn't really make the recovery any more involved.

I'm set for surgery next Wednesday morning.  He recommends doing it under general since it's a bilateral, but there is the option for local plus sedation if I want.  He already prescribed me some percocet for the post op days.  

He gets almost all his patients back to their sport by about 9 weeks, with 95% of them pain free. The other 5% have some slight residual pain but not enough to deter them from competing.  Other good news is that out of the 300 he has done, he has only had 3 reoccurrences, which is encouraging.

The days after the surgery aren't meant to be too much fun, and he said I probably wouldn't feel too much like driving to work and being nice to people for a week or so.  Funny, I don't feel like driving to work to be nice to people most days anyway.

The 9 week rehab plan will take me to December 24th, so if all goes well, I will be good as new on Christmas Day!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Big Day Tomorrow

So tomorrow I finally go to visit the sports hernia specialist. It seems it has taken ages to get to this point, which is mostly because it has.

I am quietly confident that he will confirm the presence of a bilateral sports hernia, and will be able to operate next week. If he doesn't think it's that, then I am screwed and will be pretty depressed. I am ready for this BS to be over and am looking forward to running pain free again. It's just not so much fun running when it hurts.

This morning was my final "pre-visit" run and I decided to try a few quicker miles. Ended up running for 5, with the middle 2 miles at an average of 7:15, with a max pace of about 6:45. That would have been pretty easy a few months back, but this morning was a definite race-level effort. Heartrate got up to 182, which would have been for something like 6:00 pace when I was fit.

It's obviously going to take me a while to get back in shape, and that's assuming my injury rehab allows me to run properly.

Oh well, fingers crossed that it all goes well!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quick Update

I see the doctor on October 17th, assuming it's surgery, that should be the next week.

I've run 4 times recently, and have felt a little fitness returning. Did 5.5 at 8ish pace this morning and it felt better than the 3.5 at 9ish pace 2 weeks ago.

Hopefully I'll be jogging again by mid/late November if all goes well.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September Summary

ran today for an easy 3.5 miles.  things still hurt pretty much like they did 8 weeks ago, so the whole rest & recover thing just doesn't work.  Also, taking off 8 weeks really messes with your fitness. HR was 149 for an average 8:44 pace.  Would have been 130 back in July.

September Totals
  • 1 run
  • 3.5 miles
October Plans
  • get surgery
  • get better
  • get fit (again)

Monday, September 29, 2008


Of course, now has to be the time that William Brown is on vacation doesn't it!   He is out until mid-October, so I have an appointment for an exam on October 17th.  Not sure how quickly surgery could follow, hopefully that next week.

He has a rehab schedule on his website, that has you doing jogging/easy running in week 4, and assuming things go well, return to "normal" after 9 weeks.

So if I can get the surgery the week of October 20th, here is how things could play out.....

Rehab - 9 weeks
  • Starting 10/27 (weeks 1,2,3) - walking 4xday
  • Starting 11/17 (weeks 4,5,6) - jogging/easy running, ending at 3 miles, 4 days/week
  • Starting 12/8 (weeks 7,8,9) - running (just easy miles) - ending at 6 miles, 6-7 days/week
Mileage Rebuilding - 7 weeks
  • Add in tempo runs (start at 3m, grow to 6m)
  • Add in doubles (start at 1x, grow to 3x)
  • Add in strides (start at 5x100m, grow to 10x100m)
  • Add in log runs (start at 9m, grow to 21m)
  • Mileage - start in 40's, grow to 70's
That would put me in position to start marathon training around the middle of February, which means I'd be looking for a race around June.

I'm feeling pretty out of shape right now - haven't run (or done any exercise) in 8 weeks, and have put on about 10lbs.  I figure I've cut my calorie intake by about 1,000/day, but probably should have cut it by about 1,400 to stay at the same weight.

I figure that being in shape for surgery is probably a good thing so am going to run 3-4 times/week for the next 3 weeks.  Nothing long or fast, just some easy 4-5 milers.  I don't think it's going to make anything materially worse at this stage.  So tomorrow will be my first run since August 16th, and with the help of some Vitamin I, I'm sure it'll be fine.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I thought I was internet savvy....

So here I am, a high tech expert, who spends a lot of time working on the web.  I've been researching sports hernias for several months and had come to the conclusion that I would be travelling to Philadelphia to get surgery.  I'd seen my local doctor twice to make sure I'm not doing anything crazy and after the last viist he said he'd check with one of his colleagues, who is the team doctor for the Oakland Raiders.  He called me back today and said there is a local doctor who specializes in sports hernias. He does all the local pro sports teams.

His name is William Brown III, and to be fair, I did come across his name once but didn't find enough info on him to make the list of true specialists.

So I did some research today and found his website.  I am amazed that I missed it, especially given the URL.  I must have done 100's of google searches on this stuff and never came across it. Wow! what a dufus.

So the good news is that I can probably get this done locally, the bad news is that I appear to be an idiot.

OK, so after a little research it appears that I'm not as clueless as I first thought.  This website only launched a few weeks ago. Here is a press release talking about it.  Also, it doesn't show up in google search when you search on sports hernia.  I guess it will once it is a little more established.

Now I just need the receptionist to get back from lunch so I can make an appointment!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sports Hernia Information

People keep asking me "what's a sports hernia"?. I've been digging around the web for info and here's some of the stuff I uncovered...

A good, but detailed paper from one of the experts....

Some of the experts
Wikipedia Info
A long discussion on letsrun, a runners message board.
Some potentially bad news in terms of insurance coverage
Some more insurance commentary

Various other documents/articles
Bottomline is that it is not a widely understood or treated condition since it is mainly confined to professional athletes and dumb people such as myself.

EDIT: someone (thanks, Jonathan!) sent me another SH specialist so I am updating the list to add Dr. Jeff Hoadley out of Atlanta, who has a pretty informative website on the topic.
EDIT: Added link to informative blog by fellow sufferer

Zero Progress

So it has been almost 6 weeks since I stopped running and I think I have made zero progress in terms of recovery. Tried just a few steps running the other day and it felt as bad as ever. I am convinced this will not heal on it's own, so it's back to the doctor for me to see about getting referred to the specialist who can slice me open and stitch me up.

Weight is now up 6 pounds. On track for 200 lbs by Christmas.....

Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Summary

A spectacular 76 miles for August, including just one 3.5 mile run in the last 24 days. No cross training or real exercise of any kind. I am feeling very lazy.

September starts off with yet another week of zero running and then I may try a mile or two to see if a month of no running has had any positive effect. I am pretty pessimistic about my chances and anticipate that any return to running will just be accompanied by pain. I predict a trip to see a surgeon is in my not too distant future.

Not running has been weird, but it has reduced the amount of laundry. Weight is up by only a couple pounds, which isn't too bad.

Boston in April is still my crossed-fingers goal. It's April 20th, so that gives me one more week of no running, 8 weeks of rehab where I slowly work back to ~25 miles/week. Then 6 weeks of base building to get back to 50-60 miles/week. Then I'd start an 18 week plan, which would be lower mileage than previous training plans as I won't have the necessary base for big miles.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sports Hernia

So after much time in denial, and many uncomfortable miles I finally decided that I need to do something about my groin injury.

Finally had the realisation during a supposedly easy run a couple weeks back. I thought about the last 4-5 months, and the training plan that laid ahead between now and CIM in December and recognised that the chances of getting through it were pretty slim. And the chances of enjoying it were zero. The fast, hard effort workouts are OK since adrenalin gets you thru those, but dragging myself through mile after mile of "easy" miles was just not worth it. And I had a nagging feeling that pain is probably sign that something is wrong.

So I stopped running, walked 3 miles home, and took a week off.

After a week's rest, I went for an easy 4 miler to see if was any better. It sucked. So yesterday, I went to see the Doctor.

I'd already diagnosed myself with a sports hernia - which is a tearing of the tissue that forms the inner part of the abdominal wall and inserts into the pubic bone. It happens when an imbalance occurs between the adductor muscles and the abdominal muscles; the stronger adductor muscles pull the pubic bone downward, thus stretching and eventually tearing the abdominal muscles. Soccer, hockey, football players get it. (Donovon McNabb, Tom Brady etc).

The doctor confirmed my diagnosis, but I definitely had to lead him in that direction.

Research shows that very often surgery is required to completely recover, but sometimes rest and ibuprofen can allow the muscles to heal. Seems to be the sensible decision to try rest before getting surgery, so that's the plan.

I'm going to take another 3 weeks off, and then see where I am. I'll need to build up slowly, only doing things that don't hurt. Walking first, stretching, etc. After a week or so of that I can try some very easy running, then gradually build things up.

Not sure how long it's going to take but realistically I'm not going to be training anywhere near properly until at least Thanksgiving.

So San Jose half marathon is out, as is Cal International. If things go well, and I can start some training in December I should be able to get up to speed for the Kaiser Half marathon in early February, and perhaps build up in time to run Boston in April.

In the meantime I'm not sure there is much I can do to keep fit. There's not too much exercise that doesn't involve the abdomen. Swimming hurts, pool running hurts. Haven't tried biking but I expect that will hurt too.

So I'd better watch what I eat or I'm going to put some weight on. I was running about 10,000 calories/week, so if I don't eat 10,000 calories less I'm going to gain 4 lbs/week.

It's definitely a bummer, but probably a good thing in the long run. I was obviously going to increase training until something broke so perhaps this will get me training a little smarter when I return.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Plan

The California International Marathon (CIM) is 18 weeks from today in Sacramento. Assuming I am not sidelined by injury the plan is train hard for that and run a sub 3 (hopefully somewhere in the mid 2:50s).

I have chosen to follow a plan from Daniels - somewhat optimistically called the "Elite" plan. I am no elite, and I'm pretty sure an elite wouldn't be training the way that I train (certainly they wouldn't be training at the speeds I train), but Daniels has a bunch of conversions for people that are running marathons slower than 2:10. One weird thing is that it ends up based on time, not mileage, which is new to me.

You really need to be running comfortably near the peak mileage for a month or so before you start, which fits well with the July I just ran. First 6 weeks are all lower mileage (70-90% peak) so you can absorb the impact of adding in the quality workouts. I'm running this first phase with a set of paces based on a 3:01:39 marathon, 1:27:04 half (VDOT 53)- After 6 weeks I'll run a race/time trial to see if I should adjust these for teh next 6 weeks(hopefully faster, not slower) - there's another checkpoint at 12 weeks.

Basic plan is 2 quality workouts a week, Q1 and Q2. Q1 is Sunday, and is a long run incorporating a lot of marathon pace and also tempo pace. Q2 is midweek and is faster stuff, with a lot of mile repeats, 1,000s, 400s and also plenty of tempo pace. He likes to have multiple paces within each run which should be interesting (assuming it doesn't kill me). Throw in some strides 2 days before Q1 and 1 day after, and the rest is just easy 8:00 miles, with enough doubles to make up the total for the week.

I set my peak at 110 miles and kicked it off today (weeks start Sunday). It's an 80% week, so 88 is the plan. Today was my first Q1 - this was the planned workout:
- warmup - 12 minutes easy (8:09)
- 30 minutes at marathon pace (6:56)
- 5 minutes at tempo pace (6:32)
- 25 minutes at marathon pace
- 5 minutes at tempo
- 5 minutes at marathon pace
- cooldown - 12 minutes easy.
total would be just over 13 miles, but I planned to spend a little longer in the warmup/cooldown to get the total up to 16-17.

After a 25 minute warmup I kicked off the first MP session and ran for 30 minutes at exactly 6:56. Felt OK. First tempo session was at 6:31 pace, and was OK, but noticeably harder effort than MP. Dropping back to MP was difficult, I couldn't get on steady pace and kept going too fast, eventually got it together and ran the 25 mins at 6:54. Next tempo was a hard transition (was slightly uphill too) but held on for 6:30. Final 5 minutes at MP was OK but again I struggled with pace and it ended up fast at 6:47. Ran 4 miles cooldown for a 16.75m total. An interesting workout, certainly very different than just running at a constant pace. I think the transitions in/out of MP will be good once I get a little better at them.

I like overall the structure of the plan, with just 2 quality workouts/week and then a lot of flexibility on where the other miles fit. The mix of paces will probably help, since I know that all out track sessions like 20x400m are going to kill me. Hopefully the changing pace will be a little easier on me. Guess I'll find out.

So the plan is set: 166 runs, 1,572 miles, 18 weeks with 1 run and 16.75 miles done.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July Summary

July was a big mileage month for me, in fact my biggest ever by over 70 miles. The plan was to run a lot to see how my various ailments were going to respond to heavy training. If I am going to have problems I wanted to find out now instead of 4 months thru a 6 month training program. I did 4 big weeks and varied how much fast running I did from none, to 3 days/week.

July Totals
--Ran everyday (plan was to skip 7/28)
--44 runs, 13 doubles (plan was 41 30/11)
--Mileage 429 (plan was 365)
--Weeks 86,95,100,98 (Plan 85,88,87,75)
--Races: none
--Speedwork - did 2 sets of 1,200s(plan was 1,200s and 400s)
--Long runs 20,24,22,22 (plan 20, 22, 18)

August Plans
not too sure to be honest. July has shown me that I can run through my various leg issues (achilles, ankles, knees) as long as I am sensible about the routes I run. My groin/sportshernia problem is another matter. Good news is that it doesn't get bothered by high mileage, but fast stuff definitely makes it worse. The weeks where I did little/no speedwork seemed relatively easy. Those with trackwork definitely took their toll and ibuprofen proved helpful the day after.

I think I need to get some professional advice. If it is a sportshernia, I will need to get it fixed at some point. From what I have read, continued running won't make the surgery any worse, but obviously it's hard to train hard and run fast if it hurts all the time.

So I will try to find a doctor that knows something about sports hernias, and get checked out. Until then I think I'll keep going with reasonably high mileage, but relatively low intensity (ie. no track work). That will keep me fit and serve as continued base building.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yet another big week

My "big July" continued again this week, with 97.9 miles spread over 10 runs. That makes 368 miles in the last 27 days. It's now been 47 days since I took a day off. I skipped the trackwork again this week, but did a few hills, my tempo run, and a few marathon paced miles. The rest of the miles were about 8 minutes. I feel like I am now used to this sort of mileage, but it does seem that I am always running.

M - 2 recovery runs: 7m and 6m
T - 6m tempo at 6:45 pace, 9m overall
W - 6m, skipped the PM run
T - 16m early in the morning and then 7m in the evening
F - 7m (skipped my speedwork), PM 5m
S - 12m in the morning
S - 22m at 7:50 pace w 2.5m at marathon pace

I'm going to finish out July strong so Mon-Thu are all solid days...
Mon - 2 recovery runs - 13m
Tue - 6m tempo, 9m overall
Wed - 2 easy runs, 14m
Thu - med-long AM, easy PM - 20m

That will end July somewhere around 420 miles. Then I need to assess my various ailments and make a plan. Options are......
1) Keep training hard for San Jose half , CIM and Boston
2) Take some down time to let things naturally heal
3) Cut my losses and get fixed now, and get better in time for Boston
4) Do a quick race (August/September) and then deal with everything

I'll schedule a Dr appt for early August and get checked out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday Tempo

Ran early this morning and felt really sluggish when I left the house. Everything seemed to ache from the waist down to my toes. Schedule called for a tempo run, with 6 of the planned 9 miles at about 6:42 pace. First half mile was at 8:50 pace, so I was not feeling it.

After 3/4 mile I saw another runner, moving along at a reasonable clip (probably low 7's) and it inspired me to at least try and pick up the pace. Somehow I managed to get going reasonably well and by 1 mile (normally where I start the tempo pace) I was also doing low 7s. Decided I'd at least give it a shot. Various aches/pains worked themselves out and it was all going well by 1 1/2 miles.

Managed to do the full 6 at a good pace, and averaged 6:45 (just 3 seconds off pace). It felt great to actually run some fast miles after last week's 100 miles, all at 8:00 pace. Having said that, I'm still skipping Friday's speedwork at the track as I know that is going to cause me some achilles problems.

Another 9 days of July and then I get to assess how my body has handled the big miles and plan the rest of the year appropriately.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Miles (and miles, and miles)

My "big July" continued this week, with 100.2 miles. That makes 268 miles in the last 20 days. Looking back, it's been 40 days since I took a day off. Last week's combination of high mileage (95), fast running (speedwork and tempo miles) and hills was hurting my achilles, so this week I dropped all the hills and most of the fast running. The result was a relatively easy, pain free week, with 100 miles, most of which were just around 8 minute pace.

M - 2 recovery runs: 7m and 6m
T - 5m - skipped the tempo running this week
W - 10m, skipped the PM run
T - 15m early in the morning and then 10m in the evening
F - 7m (skipped my speedwork), skipped the PM run
S - 12m in the morning and 5.5m in the afternoon
S - 22m at 7:52 pace

Next week should be similar, although I'll try not to backload the last 4 days so much - this week was 28m in 3 (9m/day) and then 72m in the last 4 days (18m/day). I'm planning for mid 90's. July total should come in over 400 miles, which is definitely my biggest month. Achilles, knee, feet are all OK with nothing that isn't manageable. The sports hernia/groin injury is still there, but this week was better than last, so I'm thinking that the speedwork is what is causing the problems. I'm going to see how I feel after a full month of heavy miles and decide on the plan at the the end of July.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Another Big Week

Second week of July ended today with a 23.77 mile run. Nothing fast, just easy miles at high 7's/low 8's. 8:08 average for just under 3 1/4 hours.

yesterday was an easy 14
Friday was an aborted trackworkout (did just 2x1200m repeats instead of the planned 5) but also ran 7 later in the day for 13 total.
Thursday was a nice 13 miler early in the morning before it got too hot, plus a very hilly 5 miler as the sun was setting.
Wednesday was a 5 m tempo at 6:42 (9.5 overall)
Tuesday was just 5 m easy
Monday was 12m spread over 2 easy runs.

Weekly total just under 95 miles.

I think it was a good decision to bail on the speedwork Friday. I'll probably skip it this week too, as I think it is putting a lot of stress on my achilles and groin.

Hoping for similar mileage this week and next, which should put July up there with my biggest ever months.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Weekly Summary

First official week of my training program for California International Marathon; December 7th - 23 weeks of training - trying to keep to a steady 350+ miles/month

Basic schedule is tempos Tuesday, strides Wednesday, 1200 or 400s Friday and long Sunday. Everything else is easy (8+ min/mile) with doubles M/W/F. 3 out of 4 weeks (or 4 out of 5 some months) are 80-90 with the other week being a cutback down around 55-60. Long runs (20+) most weeks.

This was my first post marathon 80+ week and it ended up at 86 and change. It was something of a shock to the system and today's 20 seemed like a long way. Friday's 5x1200m at 4:29 kicked my butt - the first 4 went OK but #5 was painful and it was a struggle to do 4:39 (with all the extra 10 seconds in the last lap). For Wednesday's strides I ran at the track and at the end tried a "fast" lap for fun - managed a 76 second 400m. That seemed real fast to me, but the online race calculators say I should be able to run a 65s (4:21/mile pace) which seems ridiculous.

Both achilles are sore, so I'm going to stay off the hills for a while and they should sort themselves out with some easy stretching at night. Biggest injury problem is a groin issue which I think is a sports hernia. This has been niggling me for about 6 months now, but seems to be getting worse - At first I thought it was just a muscle pull but it's not going away. I haven't done much research, but what I have done doesn't look good - always seems to end with surgery and time off running..... We'll see how that goes, hopefully I can nurse it thru CIM and maybe also Boston next April. Between that and the achilles it's taking me a couple miles to warmup and get the aches and pains worked out - I am feeling old.

Oh well, just 22 weeks (or 1,754 miles) to go........

Monday, June 30, 2008

June Summary

2008 is half over. June was my post marathon recovery month and it went well (except for 2 sub par short races). Yearly total is now 1,758 miles (9.7 miles/day)

June Plans and Actuals
--Run everyday except 6/23
.....Ran everyday except June 11th
.....37 runs (8 doubles)
.....3 long runs (15, 19, 19)
--Mileage about 265
.....Mileage 282
--Weeks 64,69,64,48
..... Weeks 67,53,71,70
--10k race on 6/21, goal 39-40 minutes
..... Ran the 10k - way too hot, 41:16
..... Ran a 5k - way too hot, 19:59
--Start speedwork for 10k training
..... did 2 speedwork sessions, plus 5k/10k

July Plans
--Run everyday except July 28th
--41 runs (11 doubles)
--Mileage 365
--Weeks 85,88,87,75
--Races: possible 10k at end of July (TBD)
--Continue speedwork (1,200s and 400s)
--Keep up weekly 18-22 milers (20, 22, 18)

Beyond July
the plan is to keep monthly mileage about 350, with 3 weeks at 85-90 followed by a cutback to high 50s. a 10k at the end of August. San Jose half early October. Silicon Valley Marathon late October (semi training run). and Cal International Marathon early December.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fast Friday

Took advantage of school being out to do some speedwork at the track early this morning. Planned for 5x1200 meters, with 90 seconds recovery walk/jog between each. Pace was planned for 6:01 mins/mile, which turns out to be 4:29 for 1200m (or just under 90s/lap).

Warmed up for a couple miles and then set off....
#1 - 4:33 - first lap was slow, next 2 were OK - mHR 160
#2 - 4:29 - spot on - mHR 168
#3 - 4:29 - spot on - mHR 168
#4 - 4:31 - struggling in lap 3 - mHR 169
#5 - 4:33 - struggling in lap 2 - mHR 170

Pretty good overall. I feel a little bit of speed finally creeping into my legs, but running at this pace still seems really fast to me.

Rest of the week has been pretty steady. Mon, Wed and Thur were all about 7:45 pace at 10, 6 and 7 miles. Tuesday was 3 miles at tempo (6:30) and 6 overall. 10-12 planned for Saturday and a 20 miler Sunday.

Coincidentally, today's 1200m repeats were almost exactly the pace for my "not-going-to-happen-but-let's-go-for-it-anyway-2:37-marathon" goal. I am 100% certain than 26.2 miles at that pace is a long, long, long way away for me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Weekly Update

Finished the week with a good long run yesterday. It was a little cooler (only high 70s at the end) as I got out reasonably early about 7:30 yesterday morning.

Ran 18.7 at an average of 7:37 over a pretty hilly course. Went easy the first 5 and then picked it up for the next 10. Ran the last 2 miles at 6:55 pace. It all felt very good and it was great to be running fast without feeling like the heat was going to kill me.

Weekly total was 71 miles - and those two hot races really hurt.

This week is my final "marathon recovery" week and should be about 70-75 miles also. I will be in Sonoma/Healdsburg thru Wednesday so I'll be running in a new location.
Mo - 7 ez
Tu - 3m tempo, 7 overall
We - 7 ez w 10xstrides
Th - 10 med long, maybe run 5ez too in the PM
Fr - 5x1200 speedwork, 5ez PM
Sa - 7-10 ez
Su - 20 long

Next week is the start of 23 weeks training for California International. The first cycle is 3 weeks in the mid 80's.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another Hot, Long Race

Ran the SF stadium to stadium 10k this morning. Started late (20 minutes) as the mayor was supposed to showup, but he didn't. It was hot, probably mis 80's at the start and touching 90 at the end. Most of the course was on super hot black roads. Had a 100' hill about mile 3 and a few little lumps. Started near AT&T park and ended in the stadium for the 49ers.

Course was certified, but they ended up moving the finish from the cert so it was about 150 meters long.

Planned to run 6:15-6:20 pace and see what happened (3:53-3:56 per KM). If all goes well that would bring me in 38:50-39:22

Here's the splits.....
KM1 3:49 - fast start, but managed to check myself
KM2 3:58 - slowing - it's hot out there
KM3 4:04 - feeling the hill we just climbed
KM4 3:55 - picked it up downhill a little
KM5 4:04 - bigger hill starts, hurting, but thru 5K at 19:54
KM6 4:14 - over the hill
KM7 3:55 - pick it up downhill
KM8 4:07 - wheels falling off, struggling
KM9 4:14 - in pain
KM10 4:16 - 40:41 thru 10k, where's the F'ing finish?

Extra 150m at 3:57/KM pace. HR up to 182

Final time 41:13 (garmin had me at 6:32 pace)

Not a great race but it was OK given the conditions, the heat completely killed me and I fell apart with 2k to go. It was all I could do to keep up a reasonable pace. Not sure of position etc, the official results aren't up yet.

After this and Thursday's 5K it's pretty clear that I am not good at handling this type of heat for racing, and need to start adjusting my goals when faced with these conditions.

Update with official results...

Official Time 41:16
23rd place out of 900ish finishers
7th in age group

Here's the photo the official photographer took.

Notice how the stadium is packed with supporters who were cheering us to the finish line......

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hot 5k

So yesterday was the Oracle 5k. About 500 runners on a flat out/back course. It was ridiculously hot, probably 90-95 degrees, practically no wind and no shade.

I hoped to run about 19-19:30 (6:07 - 6:17 pace, or 3:48-3:54 per KM) but wasn't sure what the weather was gonna do to me.

Started too fast, as usual. first quarter mile was at 5:41 pace. tried to get under control but still the first KM went by at 3:44.

2nd KM was slower and back on track at 3:52, but it was getting ugly out there.

As we turned around at 2.5K it was even hotter coming back. there was a slight cooling breeze on the way out and it disappeared and the turn. 3rd KM slower again at 3:57. definitely dragging now.

By now I'm hurting and in 6th place. the guy ahead is probably 20 seconds ahead and the guy behind is probably 15 seconds. no-one seemed to be much in the mood for heroics so i just decided to try to keep going at the same pace.

4th KM was 3:57 and 5th KM was 3:58 - bringing my time at 5K to 19:28.
normally at the 5K point 5K races stop, but this one went on for another 140 metres (or in this case, 31 seconds).

I had to throw in a painful sprint the last 100m as I saw that I could just squeeze under 20 minutes, that almost killed me and was the worse finish of any race i';ve ever run. but I made it and my race time was 19:59. (official time was 19:58.7). I would have been pissed with a 20:00.1 time after that last effort.

I came 6th overall , 2nd in my 40+ age group which was OK. Slower than I'd hoped but that sort of heat is just stupid for racing a 5k. the 5K time (by garmin) was 19:28 which is 1 second faster than my previous best 5K so it's a kinda/sorta (well, not really but we can pretend) PR. Garmin pace was 6:14

I felt really horrible for the last 2K, and desperatly wanted it to stop. Way too hot and way too fast for me. I hit a new max Heartrate of 191, previously I had thought that 187 was my max HR, guess I'd never really pushed myself before.

Here's a picture of me finishing - I felt even worse than I looked.....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good Tempo

Had a good tempo run this morning. Plan was 6 miles at tempo plus 12 seconds (6:42) with a mile warmup and cooldown. Ran my normal tempo course, which has a couple hills (200'). Felt great the whole way and averaged 6:37 for the 6 miles - Heartrate was right where it should have been and I managed a 6:40 for teh last slightly uphill mile. This was my first full normal workout since Edinburgh and it's good to be running hard again.

Yesterday was good too. Ran early morning and early evening - both easy runs with a couple faster miles in the morning. Finally felt that the recent illness was behind me and things were working properly again.

Plan is for 12 tomorrow spread other 2 easy runs.

Thursday is the Oracle 5k. Looking forward to that but I really don't enjoy 5ks. I'm not quite sure what to pace for. Should be able to do something round about 6:10 pace but I haven't done much that fast (other than 4x1100m at 6:01 about 2 weeks ago). I guess I'll start around 6:05/6:10 and see how it goes. Will probably depend on who else is running and how fast they are going. My current PR is 19:29 (6:16 pace), which was on my own on the track. I'll be happy if I can beat that time, but to be honest would like to get down to around 19 minutes (6:07 pace).

Friday will be some more easy miles and then there's a 10k on Saturday. I really need to get a solid sub 40 race under my belt. I feel like I've been doinking around the 40 minute mark for ages. Current PR is 40:24 (6:30 pace) from back in January - I should be much faster than that after the last 5 months of training, plus I ran my tempo run this morning only 7 seconds/mile slower than that so I should be able to easily pull off a 6:20 pace for 10k. I'd like to run around 39 minutes (6:17 pace) but will probably set my goal based on Thursday's 5k.

Sunday will be a long of around 16/17 which will have me doing low/mid 60's for the week. Maybe a little more, depwnding on how much warmup/cooldown I do for thw two races.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Slowly Back to Normal

So this sickness is definitely taking its toll.....

Cold has gone but stomach is still messed up. Without being too graphic I am now mostly in control of timing, but not consistency. The result is that I'm pretty much continually dehydrated - which goes very well with 90+ weather and running.

Thursday I dragged myself through a slow 7 miles - no fun at all.
Friday was worse: I bailed on the speedwork and attempted a long tempo. Managed 3 at reasonable tempo pace (6:45) and then jogged the rest of the 9 miles at 7:45ish.
Saturday was another 9-10 miler but it never really felt good until the last couple miles, and it was all pretty slow at 8:10 pace.

Tomorrow should be 16 with a couple at MP, which will round out the week in the mid/high 50's about 20 under the plan.

Hopefully I'm back to normal next week - if not, I'll be taking it easy in the Oracle 5k on Thursday.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


So despite my best intentions of running even when sick, I have been sidelined. A combination of a stinky cold and stomach flu has made running out of the question.

Felt bad Monday night, and slept terribly. Woke up Tuesday and decided to skip work & the morning run and stay home. Slept most of the day. Got up about 4pm and decided to go for a run. Given that it was 95 degrees this was probably not too smart. At least I had the sense to just run 4 very easy miles instead of running my 7 mile tempo run. But I was totally dehydrated (benadryl will do that) and when I got home I was not feeling that "runner's high".

Stayed home again and slept most of Wednesday and didn't run at all.

Today I feel a bit better, but won't run this morning. I may do a few easy miles this evening if work goes OK and I don't relapse.

Looks like this will be one of those hiccup weeks in my training.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Midrange Goals -> 2008 Replan

I've been doing some midrange goal setting, and have decided that I am going to focus on my marathon time for the next 3 years. My recent race was a huge improvement but I don't feel I'm at any sort of limit. It was just over 7 minutes/mile. I have a crazy goal that I can get down to under a 6 minute mile pace in 3 years. That's a 2:37 marathon. Given the fact that I haven't run a 5k at that pace it is a big, big stretch.

But that's all part of the fun, so the goal is to run a 2:37 marathon sometime in 2011. As such, I'm dumping any other goals like running fast half marathons, 10ks, miles etc and will be doing those only as secondary/supporting events.

I did some research, and polled some people who have made this type of progression at my advanced age (I'll be 45 for most of 2011) and it doesn't seem to be totally impossible. Several years of consistent, big mileage (100+ miles per week) seems to be pretty standard, as does a lot of 20+ mile runs. I also plan to race more marathons, so I can get a better idea of what happens when I approach (and probably exceed) the limits of what my body is able to do

I havent thought more than 1 year out but have a good idea of the next 12 months.....

June will be a recovery month, with no week over 75 miles. Total mileage around 280. Get some speedwork into the schedule and run a couple shorter races (5k, 10k).

July, August and September are all big months at 350+ with 20+ milers most weekends. Trying to focus on consistent mileage vs too many peaks & troughs. So it'll be 80-90 most weeks, with a cutback (high 50s) every 3-4 weeks. Probably run a couple 10k races to assess fitness.

October has a couple races: first will be San Jose half marathon. This will be an all out effort, and will be used to help set my goal time for my next full effort marathon (December). I'd be looking for something solidly under 1:25, ideally closer to 1:23. The other race will be a full marthon (Silicon Valley 10/26). This will just be a training run: first half at an easy pace, and second half at the goal pace for the next marathon.

November is another solid month at 350 miles, with a slight taper for a race on December 7th. I plan to run the California International Marathon as a full effort race. Hoping to get under 3 hours, maybe as low as 2:55 if training has gone well. I'll set the goal based on my result at the San Jose half marathon in early October.

Then it'll be a solid, but not crazy December, followed by January thru March building up mileage with a focus to run Boston on April 20th 2009. Boston isn't the fastest course in the world so I'll be hoping to just run it faster than I ran CIM.

Then, 12 months from now, I'll see where I am and plan out the next year.

This should be fun, and since consistent, solid training is key, I will need to remain somewhat flexible and avoid messing up my body. I don't really know if I'm capable of running a marathon at under 6 minutes per mile, but I do know that there is only one way to find out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Back to Normal

Normal running has resumed after Edinburgh. Following an unprecented 3 days off, I closed the week running friday, saturday and sunday.

This week is back to a regular schedule, 10 runs over 7 days, albeit lower mileage than previously.
Mon was my first post race double - two easy 5 milers
Tue became another easy 5 miler, instead of the planned tempo run.
Wed - ran the tempo this morning: 3 miles tempo, 8 miles overall. didn't feel very snappy, and ended up a little slow at 6:39 (despite being mostly downhill) vs the planned 6:30. will add an easy 5 this evening.
Thu - plans call for easy 7 with some strides
Fri - speedwork starts. probably something like 10x400m in 84 w 400m recovery jog. may end up doing less than 10x, depending on how they feel.
Sat - easy 5
Sun - long(ish) - 12 miles w a couple quick ones thrown in at the end
Total should be low/mid 60s

This is going to be the standard summer/fall schedule - doubles M/W/F, tempos Tuesday - this may morph into some sort of interval session, strides Wednesday, speedwork Friday and long (up to 18 miles) on Sunday. Building the mileage up from 60s to 80s by the end of July. It's kind of a hybrid 10k/half marathon/marathon training schedule, which is probably not optimal for any of them.

In terms of races, I will attempt a 10k race every 5 weeks or so, with a super-stretch goal of running one in 37:17 (which is 6:00 pace) in September. First one is 6/21 when I am hoping to finally get under 40 minutes, despite my last 2 failed attempts.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

May Summary

5 months of 2008 are over, and things are going well. Obviously the big event this month was the marathon.

May Plans and Actuals
--Edinburgh Marathon 5/25 - Sub 3 hour was the stretch goal
......Ran 3:06:13
......Also ran a crappy 10k but I'm not talking about that
--Planned mileage of 80,70,55,63
--Planned monthly mileage around 260
--Run everyday until marathon, not sure of week after
......missed May 9th, skipped 3!! days afterwards

June Plans
--Run everyday except 6/23
--Mileage about 265
--Weeks 64,69,64,48
--10k race on 6/21, goal 39-40 minutes
--Start speedwork for 10k training

Beyond June the plan is to keep up the speedwork, hold mileage around 70-80, and run 1-2 more 10Ks, hopefully getting down under 38 minutes. Then it's a half marathon (San Jose Rock'n'Roll) on October 5th. Haven't picked a goal yet but it'll be somewhere between 1:20 and 1:25.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Aftermath

Official race results are up and I came in 233rd place out of 6,681 finishers at 3:06:13. There were about 11,000 full marathon entrants, so they ended up with over 4,000 either as no-shows or people who didn’t finish. I am very happy being in the top 2%.

My time for the first half was 1:32:45 (7:04 pace) vs a plan of 1:35:36 – so 2:51 ahead of pace. Time for second half was slightly slower than the first at 1:33:28, but still 0:56 faster than the plan of 1:34:24.

Analysis shows that the headwind did not slow me down as much as I had planned (30 seconds per mile) or speed me up as much (15 seconds mile). Fastest mile was mile 19 at 6:48, which was when we first left the wind and ran thru a country park, with a slight downhill. Slowest miles were 7, 15 and 16, at 7:21 which were all very windy. Overall the pacing was good, with only one mile more than 10 seconds slower than plan. I really think that the high mileage training boosted my strength so that the windy miles weren’t that big a deal. I passed a lot of people during miles 11-15 (the windiest section), when I gained 1:41 against the plan.

I didn’t run Monday or Tuesday but did go out for a run in Poole on Wednesday. It was raining but not cold or windy, so pretty nice conditions for a run. Ran out to the beach which has a good hill about mile 3. Started at 8ish pace but was feeling good – could feel a little tightness in the quads but they loosened up pretty quickly and soon got down to 7:20ish. Kept it up over hill and went out to the beach and ran along the front. On the way back I hit the hill hard and got down to 7:00 on the way up, and down around 6:00 on the way down. Overall 8.35 miles at 7:20 pace and all the muscles felt good.

Travel day yesterday (Thursday) so no running. Today I’ll do an easy 5-6, same on Saturday and probably an easy 10 miler Sunday.

Bizarrely, I think I may have broken my foot during the race. I remember a sharp pain across the top of my right foot about mile 21 but didn’t pay much attention to it at the time. By Monday I could feel it when I walked on it, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It isn’t swollen, so perhaps it’s not broken, but just a bruise. Once I get running it’s OK as the weight goes forward to the toes and this is in the back half of the foot. If it doesn’t sort itself out by Monday I’ll go get it checked out. I guess you have to expect something like that if you run a marathon in the lightweight shoes. Hopefully it’s not a real problem.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Edinburgh Marathon

So today was the big race. 6 months of training to see if I could finally run a decent marathon..... It's late, I'm tired so I'll add some "color" and details tomorrow - but here's the basic facts and a couple pictures......

The Background
started running 2 years ago in April 2006, did 2 marathons (both ugly, painful races - 4:10 in california and 4:26 in hawaii) with insufficient training and promised i wouldn't run one again until i could do one "properly". messed up my achilles running too many hills in may 2007 and spent 3 months pool running. Crawled back onto dry land Sept '07, picked up the training and by mid November '07 was back to pre-injury fitness levels. Started on a big training plan (27 weeks, 1,735 miles, 107 mile peak mileage) for Edinburgh and today was the time to see if it had worked or not.

The Course, Conditions and Race Plan
Theoretically it's a fast course, if conditions are good. 200' downhill in first 5 miles then pretty flat to the end. But if it's windy, it's a headwind from mile 5-18 and then a tailwind from 19 to 26. Today the wind was 20MPH with gusts in the mid 30's, so it was not a real PR course. About 11,000 runners plus 3,000 doing a relay.

My plan was for 3:10 - I'd toyed with going for sub 3 but the weather said no.

Miles 1-5
I was in the second corral/pen so got a good start just 13 seconds after the gun. It's a fast start as it's sheltered from the wind and downhill. No mile markers 'til mile 3 - here's the splits

1-3 21:19/20:31
4 7:01/7:01
5 7:13/7:09
So at mile 5 I was 34:48 against a plan of 35:33 - 45 seconds in the bank!

Miles 6-10
We hit the coast, and also the headwind in this section and there were some tough spots. Gu'd at 5.5 and felt pretty good.
6 7:18/7:16
7 7:18/7:18
8 7:20/7:04
9 7:26/649
10 7:16/7:04

So after 10 miles I was 1:10:33 against a plan of 1:12:12 and feeling great - 1:39 banked and feeling strong!

Here's a photo from mile 9

Miles 11-16
This was the worst section - direct headwind, and the plan reflected that. I started chatting with another runner (#1242) at mile 14, which helped a lot.

11 7:28/7:02 - fast!
12 - missed the marker
12-13 15:10/14:20 - still fast!
14 7:32/7:17
15 7:32/7:20
16 7:31/7:15
Crossed 16 at 1:53:56 vs 1:57:24 plan, so 3:28 ahead of schedule!

This was a big segment for me, managed to stay strong and make up big time in some pretty brutal winds right on the coastline.

Miles 17-20
This section left the coast and went round some old house. Felt great to be out of the wind.

17 7:21/7:02
18 7:22/7:04
19 7:15/6:57
20 6:46/7:03 - overly optimistic planning.....
Crossed 20 at 2:22:14 vs plan of 2:26:09 - still picking up time and 3:55 ahead

Miles 21-25
The last 5 miles had the tailwind and I rolled nicely thru these. My big training weeks and many, many 20+ mile runs kept me strong. Only 1 person passed me (in fact that's from the half way point) and I went by dozens and dozens of fading runners. I could feel it in my quads by 23 but I was never close to bonking or cramping.

21 missed marker
22 14:07/12:56 - short at 1.84 miles
23 7:01/8:29 - long at 1.19 miles
24 7:01/6:23 - short at 0.89 miles
25 7:07/7:55 - long at 1.1 miles
so they messed up the markers bigtime on this session, so who knows where I was. Assuming mile 25 was right I was at 2:57:58 vs 3:01:24 - which was 3:26 ahead.

Final 1.2
I knew sub 3:05 wasn't going to happen so decided to not kick from 1.2 miles out. Instead just focused on getting the person ahead and sprinting once I got into the stadium for the last .22 miles.
26 7:01/6:55
26.22 1:36/1:20
Hit that last .22 at about 6 minute pace in front of a packed grandstand and it felt great!

Final time 3:06:13 - A huge PR of 1:03:57.

I was very happy with the result. I ran a smart race and didn't get myself into trouble. I think I was probably in good enough shape to do sub 3:05 but sub-3 was never going to happen in that wind.

Here's the finish line photo......

The results don't come out til Tues/Wed, but the winner was 2:25 - here's his story

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Training is Done

A short 3-4 mile run brings this marathon training program to an end. Now it is just the race, which starts in just under 23 hours.

It's been a long training program at 27 weeks and 1,735 miles. 195 runs spread over 188 days. Average weekly mileage of 65 miles, with a peak at 107. That's a lot of training for one race; I really hope I don't screw it up by doing something stupid.

The training ended up as much higher mileage than initially planned. Originally it was supposed to peak about 75 miles, but I just started running longer, and then added in the second run some days and before I knew it, I'd had 7 weeks over 80 miles. Lots of long runs (10 at 20+ miles, and 8 at 15-20 miles), lots of tempo runs, but very little speedwork other than strides.

I have pretty much been on the edge of injury the whole time and had one little hiccup in February, where I had to take 5 days off due to slight achilles issues.

I have had issues with my right knee, left shin, left and right achilles, both ankles and my right foot. As of now, it's the achilles that are most likely to cause ongoing problems, but I knew that getting into this training plan and the goal was to get to the start able to run hard and deal with the injuries afterwards.

So all in all, a successful training plan. I'm fitter than I have ever been in my life and feel very prepared for tomorrow's race. It now just comes down to the conditions and pacing. It will definitely be windy (20MPH gusting to 35), so any secret hidden goals of running sub 3 are completely out the window. I am using my "3:10 Big Wind" plan, which should get me through the first half in 1:35:39 and the second slightly quicker at 1:34:21.

I plan to go up to 30 seconds/mile slower for headwind and 15 seconds/mile faster for tailwind. I also have a slower first mile, and a fade from miles 20-26 built in. Along with adjustments for the (very few) ups and downs my mile pace will range from 6:46 (mile 20) to 7:36 (mile 12).

To be honest, I think I may have screwed up the wind factor a little. According to Daniels, a 20 MPH headwind will slow you about a minute (vs the 30s I have factored in). If that is the case I will hurting trying to stay on pace from miles 5 to 19 (or if I slow down, about 4 minutes off pace).

So the official goals are....
1) Beat my previous best marathon (4:10:10)
....I will be very disappointed if I miss this one
2) Boston Qualifying time (3:20:59)
....I should do this unless weather causes me big problems
3) London "Good For Age" (3:15:00)
....this one depends on the weather
4) Run according to my race plan (3:10:00)
....I should be able to do this, risk is I start too fast, or the wind affects me more than planned
5) Super stretch goal (Sub 3 hour) chance of this, not even going to try (unless there is miraculous weather change)

Secretly I am hoping to get thru mile 19 (the turnaround) on my 3:10 plan feeling strong and then be able to run the last 7 miles faster than plan to bring me in somewhere around 3:08-3:09, but that's the secret plan that I'm not sharing.

Oh well, time to stop analyzing and rest up. Tomorrow this all moves from excel to the road and we're see whether the last 1,735 miles were any use.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Not so smart?

So after a night of non-sleep I am thinking the this whole "go-to-Europe-to-run-a-marathon-thing" was not so smart.

Body clock is way off, and after a night of very restless, sleep, I was in my deepest deepest sleep at 8am when the alarm went off. Got up and ran my 4-5 miler, and also added in the required strides. That all feels fine, but we'll have to see how this time difference thing plays out.

Ran a little bit more of the course this morning, so I have now covered the first couple miles. It's not too windy, but this is the part of the course that is sheltered. Forecast is still 20MPH from the E/NE.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Eagle has landed

I am finally in Edinburgh, after a long but uneventful trip. The hotel is very close to the start and right by the "Seat of King Arthur". I ran round Arthur's seat twice this evening for a leisurely 6-7 miler. Lots of people were out running and biking.

I covered some of the course. Blue line shows my run today, red line shows race course. I'll cover a little more tomorrow, now that I have my bearings.

It was a little windy when exposed to the East, so Sunday is going to be interesting. Forecast has changed again; rain is gone, but the wind is now predicted to get up to 20 MPH. It's going to be a slog getting out to mile 18.

I'm running at 9am tomorrow morning to get used to race time - this of course, assumes that I wake up.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Travel Day is here!

Flying to Edinburgh today (and technically tomorrow too). Leave SF this evening and get to Edinburgh Thursday about 5pm. Need to go thru Terminal 5 at Heathrow so there is no telling if I will actually survive the trip. Assuming I do, I'll run a few miles Thursday evening "on the course" to unwind the legs after flying.
This morning is my last tune-up run: 7 miles with 2 at race pace, so I'll run those about 7:00 pace.

Weather isn't looking any better: still windy, but now it's going to rain too.....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Uh oh! - it's getting windy

The forecast for Sunday is getting worse. Wind is picking up, now up to 16MPH from the NE, which makes miles 6-18 hard, but 18-26 easier.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Now just waiting for the big day.

This morning was a slow recovery 6 mile run. Yesterday was 13 miles, with the last 3 at just under 7 minute pace (round about marathon pace) - it all felt great and the many measurements/statistics look good. I am as ready as I am likely to ever be.

A morning easy 5 and afternoon easy 4 for Tuesday, 7 with 2 at race pace on Wednesday, then it's time to get on the plane. Get to Edinburgh Thursday afternoon (have to change in London, hopefully I don't get stuck in Terminal 5 at Heathrow) and I'll run an easy 5 miler to unwind the legs. Friday morning I plan to run at 9am Edinburgh time (race time) to get the body clock as ready as I can. Another easy 4 miles Saturday morning and then it's game time.

Trying to eat lots of carbs, drink lots of water and not drink lots of beer this week. So far so good, but it's only Monday.

Weather is still pretty much the same forecast...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weather Update

The weather forecast amazingly didn't change all that much in the last 24 hours......

12 MPH easterly still forecast, but now it looks like rain the day before.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Race Weather Update

Forecast is now back to normal, which is an Easterly wind....

I will keep an eye on this over the next week.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Race Plan

So I am all planned for the race. I've built an overly complex spreadsheet (based on one I found on the web) that calculates all my mile splits based on the course elevation changes, anticipated wind, water stops, and race strategy. It produces a nice little bracelet that you can strap around your wrist so you remember what you are supposed to be doing after 3 hours of running.

The one on the left is the plan for a 3:10, assuming no significant wind. I have a bunch of others with different time goals and different wind factors. As of now, the 3:10, no wind adjustment is my official plan!

Right now, about 8 days before the race the weather looks OK. Mid 50's, 10 MPH winds, 20% chance of rain. The prevaling wind is easterly, which means a headwind from miles 5-16 and a tailwind from 16-26. However, currently the forecast is for NW, which means cross wind most of the way.

Looks like the weather is going to be the big variable and it really could do just about anything. So flexibility is going to be the key.

Here's the course.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Final Workout

My final pre-marathon "real workout" is done. 3 x 1600 meters at 5k pace. I've been really light on this type of speed workout as it was the thing that was most likely to get me injured, but I decided it would be good to get a little speedwork into the end of the schedule just to get tuned up for the big day.

It's going to be really hot today (high 90's) so I went out early to run laps at the high school track. Out the door before 7am and it was already creeping up towards 70 degrees, not a trace of wind.

My 5k pace is "supposed to be" 6:04 minute miles. Mind you, I have never run a 5k at that pace but there you go. That works out to about 90 seconds per 400 m lap. So 3x4 laps with a 2 minute recovery jog in between.
.....First 4 laps were 89, 91, 91, 90 - 6:01
.....Second 4 laps were 87,92,91,93 - 6:03
.....Third 4 laps were 90, 93, 93, 90 - 6:06
Last set was definitely hard but I was happy hitting that last lap in 90. I was glad it wasn't 4 x 1600m.

So now it's all easy stuff from here to Scotland; nothing but easy miles, a few strides and some marathon pace miles to get the timing down.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Taper Week 2

So a 17-18 miler out and back over the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito yesterday morning wrapped up my first taper week. 62 miles, with an unplanned day off Friday.

I have decided that my unimpressive 10k race on Saturday (in which I was 14th out of 310 finshers - so 296 people were even less impressive than me) is a sign that perhaps a sub 3 marathon attempt is going to end very badly. And that perhaps a more sensible plan would be to aim for 3:10. So that is now the official plan - 3:09:59, which is 7:15 average pace. If it is all going swimmingly at mile 20 I'll speedup for the last 6 miles. And if it's not, I'll be very grateful I wasn't running at 6:52 pace.

It will be adjusted only for these 2 scenarios:
1) the weather is dreadful, in which case I will probably just go for 3:20
2) I change my mind and go for sub 3 - which won't be smart, but is not out of the question.

This week is a short week at 54 miles. Still keeping the intesnity/pace of the workouts, but the mileage is dropping.
Monday - 6 miles easy pace
Tuesday - 8 miles w 4 miles at tempo (6:29)
Wednesday - 6 miles easy pace
Thursday - 8 miles w 3x1600m at 5k pace (6:04)
Friday - 6 miles easy pace
Saturday - 7 miles w 5x100m Strides
Sunday - 13 miles easy pace
So it's all easy stuff except for Tuesday and Thursday.

I can already notice the effect of lowering the mileage last week and things are feeling good.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Out of Tune

So this morning was a 10k tune up race......

It was a bad race (long and a very twisty/turny last 1/4 mile), and I ran it really badly (wimped out)...... Some friends who ran this last year said they were around 1 min slow so I figured the course was probably a bit long but figured I'd go for it anyway.

Warmed up OK, started fine.
Mile 1 (goal 6:17) - actual 6:16
- no mile marker so this was by garmin distance
Mile 2 (goal 12:34) - actual 13:37!
- this freaked me out as it I hadn't slowed down
- checked the distance and this mile was way long
- garmin was at 2.16m
- pace for the 2.16m was about right at 6:19 and felt OK
Mile 3 (goal 18:51) - actual 20:02 - 3.16 miles
- so despite running 6:20 pace for 3.16 miles i was over 20 mins and not even at the "5k" mark.

At this point I got a stitch and decided it wasn't worth killing myself for a long course, wimped out and jogged it in around 6:40 pace for a very unimpressive 41:17. (6.35 miles - 6:29 pace). I came about 15th out of 500 or so people.

Overall, a really lame race. I hate crappy courses, it is not difficult to measure them properly, but even with that I had a crappy race. I was off pace at mile 3 by a few seconds and then I wimped out - not very good. I will decide what this means to my Edinburgh 3 hour goal later.