Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pushing that Rock Back Up the Hill

Yes, I am feeling like Sisyphus lately. In case you are not up on your Greek legends, Sisyphus was punished with the task of having to push a big rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down to the bottom where he had to do it again, over and over, forever. This guy.

As you longtime runners know, this is a pretty good metaphor for our training cycles. We work and work and get faster and faster, and then something happens - an injury usually, or just some downtime - and the rock rolls down the hill, and we have to get back in shape all over again.

I was near the top of the hill in 2012. I was running faster than I thought possible. Got my BQ and many other PRs. And then my knees started whining and complaining and I had to take some downtime. Early 2013 I started back up the hill and got in pretty good shape and was running some good races...and then my feet started hurting, and plantar fasciitis kicked that rock back down the hill.

So now I am back at it. Pushing that rock back up. Seems like it gets bigger every year. Or maybe it's me getting older. But at least I am seeing some progress. That rock and I are moving up. And I have some goals up top I want to get to.

Since my triumphant Surf City pikermi, the foot has only been complaining mildly, so I am back into 3 days a week of running. Last week I did 5 Tuesday, 6 Thursday, and 8.2 Sunday. Pace is slow, but I'm not too frustrated, because I'm really just happy to be out there. I know if I keep running, the conditioning will come back. I'm looking forward to re-joining my mountain goat group next week. And hopefully back with the speedy track-work group by March.

Meanwhile I have been cross-training. I managed to have my best month of biking ever in January, with 124 miles. I am looking at breaking my record annual biking mileage of 344 miles this year. I am almost half way there already! Still considering getting back in the pool and doing a triathlon this year too.

Yes, that rock will always be there. And I will always be pushing on it. Because that's what we do.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Surf City Loopfest: The Legion of Boom!!!

In case you were wondering where all those sonic booms were coming from on Sunday, it was from out here on the left coast, where Loopsters got together and decided to smash all expectations at the Surf City Marathon and Pikermi.

Boom!!! Three BQs! Boom!!! Seven, yes, SEVEN PRs!!! Boom!!! Two AG awards! Sixteen Loopsters were racing, and not one disappointing run! Loopfest race day magic was in full force! Goals were shattered, spirits soared, 2014 expectations were flying high! It was a GREAT day on the beach-side race course. But that was just the highlight of a Super loopfest weekend!

OK, take a breath, and I'll back it up a bit.

My battles with PF are well documented, but briefly, I haven't trained regularly since September. I stubbornly did two pikermis in November and December and probably delayed my recovery. But since Rehoboth I took 6 weeks off with no running, saw some progress, and had 4 tentative runs in the last two weeks that went pretty well. 3, 4, 5, and 6 milers. Then Wednesday I did a 4 miler that hurt worse than the others and I got a little depressed again. I knew I should skip this race and be careful and rest it. But it was a loopfest! Everyone was staying at my house! Mild Sauce pledged to run/walk with me as slow as I needed to! So I ran it.

The evolution of my plan for this race:

1. Skip it
2. I guess I can pick up my bib and start it and turn back after a mile and head to the beer garden.
3. Well maybe I could do the first loop and then cut back for 8 miles total.
4. Well, it shouldn't hurt too much to just walk the rest, right? Sub 2:30?
5. Hmm, that 6-miler went pretty well. I guess I could just run easy as long as the pain stays away and run/walk the last 5 miles. Maybe sub-2? I don't want my first over 2:00 half on my record...
6. Shoot, the pain is back. I should really skip this race.
7. I can't skip it, idiot. Just see what happens.

So that's where I stood on race morning.

Friday, Loopsters started arriving. I had 9 staying at my house. These 8 plus John Wayne who came in later. 20414 079
 It's always so much fun to have the guests. They were all gracious and thankful, but it was seriously my pleasure to have them there.

Here is the whole group with the locals added in.

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Friday night we all descended on Anna Bananas house, and had enormous amounts of delicious food.
Saturday, AtomBuddy came over and made pumpkin pancakes for everyone. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to head to the expo early and spend the afternoon at the beach.

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And we got our group shot.
We managed to squeeze in a quick happy hour beverage at the nearest bar we could find, and then had an excellent Italian carbo-load dinner. I had the risotto with lobster chunks. Yum! Dinner out with loopsters is always a blast. Even when some old guy in a bad toupee is singing Volare at the piano.

Race day! The three marathoners were up and out before 4AM. The rest of us got to sleep in and didn't leave until 5. John Wayne helped KT up my bum foot.

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Leaving early and picking the farthest parking lot worked great. No traffic. No line at the bus. Just pitch black and cold.
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We got to the expo and tent and chilled (literally) a bit.
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But then we all marched up to Misti and Nate's hotel room right next to the start line, 8 floors up, and got a great view of the marathon start. We stayed warm and enjoyed the indoor plumbing. Awesome. But then it was time to run. I was ready.
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The Sauce was there for support, and her frequent screams to Seahawk fans kept things lively. We saw JB and Alice as they were there to cheer for us. We backed up to the third wave and planned to just go at training run pace, maybe 8:30ish?, and enjoy the day.

The foot felt pretty OK at the start. Hurt a bit, but nothing major, so we cruised along. 8:34, 8:18, 8:12. Pace felt good, foot felt good. Happy times!


Mile 4 had a little hill. In my sorry fitness shape I slowed a bit and had to catch my breath at the top, but on the way down, I was still feeling good! 8:27 up, 8:10 down. Five miles in and things were just peachy! We looked for loopsters in the big crowd (15,000), and managed to see a few. Then we were back to PCH for the long out and back.

The foot pain was basically just a dull ache that never spiked into angry bee stings like it did at Rehoboth, so I kept running. I was getting fatigued, but not too bad. I was pretty sure sub-2 was a done deal. I thought maybe a walk break after the turn around at 8.

But, didn't need it. Kept going. 8:13, 8:15, 8:13. In mile 9 I walked through a water stop and took a little breather. Legs were getting sluggish. 8:34  But then I just kept on going into the sun and headwinds. By this point I knew it was a good day. We saw a camera guy and nailed this one.


Miles 10 and 11 had a little uphill, but I cruised on up, 8:13, 8:23. Getting tired, but did the math and knew sub 1:50 was in my sights. Might as well finish strong. We started pushing it a little. Legs were tired, my breathing started getting heavy. But hey, it WAS a race after all. Sauce tried to push me, but I didn't feel the need to go too far into the pain cave. Comfortably hard. The marathoners joined the course in the last 1/4 mile and we saw Roger just ahead of us! Couldn't catch him though as he was running sub 7 on the way to his BQ! But I finished with 8:04 and 7:58, and a 7:11 pace for the  last .17. Boom! Expectations crushed! Injury belittled. Loop awesomeness affirmed. 1:48:49

We were happy.


Then we got some clothes on and started the party at the beer garden. Loopsters filed in and we heard all the good news. One great report after another. Happiest place on earth!

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Eventually we made it out of there and back to my place where the partying would continue. Super Bowl Party! I jumped on the Seahawk bandwagon with Roger and Sauce, and that made that boring game VERY exciting!
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Special guest Jacqueline Hansen was there, along with her home-made cookies (which were delicious) and she inspired everybody - many of whom left with signed books!
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And there was much partying...
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Jacqueline tells Dean what it takes to go sub-3....

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A little Apples to Apples caused much merriment.

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It was a fun night, a great weekend, typical loopfest.

I thought about putting our faces on this poster but my photoshop skills are nil, so just imagine it. Or do it for me.

Ready to do it again in 3 months at Flying Pig! I'm hopeful my foot will allow me to train enough to get back under 1:40.

Life is so good.