Monday, December 29, 2008

Goofy Challenge training, part 13

Maybe because this is the 13th installment of my training saga, but the weekend’s long run did not go according to plan. First of all, we had a thaw on Friday. While the respite from the frigid temps was nice, a warm up to the mid-30s meant melting snow and subsequent refreezing overnight. When I went out on Saturday morning, I didn’t even make it a quarter mile before heading back in. The sidewalks were iced over and I wasn’t running, I was gingerly walking. I figured I’d try again Sunday.

The sidewalks and roads were better Sunday, but it was much colder. Since it was only a 12 mile run, I figured I could do the run without problem. The running conditions were fine, but my left Achilles tendon and ankle starting to throb about 9 miles into the run, so I cut it short and did 10.5 miles total. I don’t want to get injured this close to the race, so I’m also taking today off to rest my leg. I bought an ankle brace, too, which I think will help. The big problem is that my shoes are wearing fast and now it is too close to the race to break in a new pair. Luckily, I have a couple of pairs from last year that don’t have many miles on them that I can wear for the races.

We’re getting closer to the race and as I start my taper, I’m thinking of race strategy a bit. I’m not wearing my iPod this year for either race. I’d like to experience the race more fully this year, especially since I will actually know people running the races-whether or not I run with them, I’ll still know that there are people that I have a potential to chat with, if they are so inclined.

I’m not wearing my water belt, either. The past two years when I’ve had the belt, I have not used it as much as I thought I would because there are plenty of water stops. I figure that I’ll keep doing what I did the last two races and stop at every water stop, even if I only drink some of the water and pour the rest over my head. I’ll still bring my
GU Energy gels and have those every four or five miles (unless I’m really going slow, then I’ll have them every 45-50 minutes). I think it will make my prep and my running easier to not worry about those things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Goofy Challenge training, part 12

The weather didn’t hold. We had a nice winter storm come through yesterday, which started as I was about a 1½ into my 20 mile run. Now, I’m a Minnesotan born and bred, so I figured it would be okay. In short, I finished the run, but it was like running 20 miles through the sand with winter running gear on. Oh, and the temperature was dropping as the wind picked up. The arms of my winter running pullover froze from the wrist to the elbow, my running gloves were frozen, as was my hat and the mesh of my running shoes. I had frozen snow on my heels from the tops of my shoes to the bottom of my running tights.

All in all, not the greatest conditions to run in, but oddly, I didn’t think of stopping and finishing the run inside. I certainly didn’t think of quitting and heading home. I just kept thinking that all I needed to do was finish the next part of the run, and then the next, and so on-soon I’d be done. I’ve run in colder conditions, snowier conditions, but the combination yesterday was definitely some of the worst weather I’ve run in. To top it off, normally when the weather is this bad, people stay home, but with yesterday being the last Saturday before Christmas, the roads were pretty busy. This meant watching cars much more closely as I can to intersections, but I didn’t really have any trouble with cars coming close to me or having trouble seeing me (I’m pretty big, so kind of hard to miss when there’s a snowy backdrop). I wasn’t even all that worn out. I was sore, and still am today, but I wasn’t exhausted. I may run the Goofy slower than I ran the marathon the last two years, but I’ll be able to do both fairly easily. I think it’s sheer stubbornness that’s getting me through the training now.

Happy holidays everyone!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Goofy Challenge training, part 11

I had a fairly easy 12 mile run last Saturday, a nice route I hadn’t run in about two months. The weather was surprisingly warm, about 30 degrees, with not much wind and no precipitation. At least, not when I was running. By the afternoon, the wind had picked up and the temperature began dropping, fast. By evening, when my family and I went to a Christmas gathering, it was in the single digits and heading further south. We had a front blow through, literally, that was a precursor to the generally dismal weather we’ve had all week. Today it’s sunny, but it is not going to stay that way for long. We’re supposed to get snow tonight and tomorrow, which should be done by this Saturday-the day I run my last 20 miler. Oh joy! I planned a different route so that I wouldn’t be doing laps like two weeks ago and as long as the weather holds, I should be fine.

This was the last intense week for my training, as I start to taper next week. I’m excited to do the races, but there is a small part of me that just wants to get it over with so I can relax a bit with my family. I’m still looking for a job and although I do have a project I’m doing for an old employer and an interview tomorrow for a good position with a great company, I’m getting more and more nervous, given the state of the economy that I may not find anything anytime soon. It does make it a little tough at times to justify doing the marathon, but so far, my wife and my mother have both said that since we had already budgeted for the trip that we should go. So, I’m going, obviously, but still, I really wish I had to take time off work to be able to take the trip. Oh well, maybe something will happen with the interview tomorrow and I’ll be able to look forward to starting a new job when we get back home!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Goofy Challenge training, part 10

Yesterday, I planned on running 20 miles (my square 4 mile route in 5 laps), even with the cold and wind. I’ve done it the past two years to train for the WDW Marathon and only once have I come in early (last year during an ice storm) and finished on the elliptical inside. Now, I’ve done it twice. It was not the cold and wind, but the snow, drifts, and lack of snow removal early on Saturday morning. We didn’t have a foot of snow or anything like that, but we had enough snow starting Friday night that by the time I went out at 7:00 am, the snow was about 3-5 inches, unless I ran into a drift-then the snow was part way up my calf. Naturally, the sidewalk that drifts the worst is next to the busiest road I run on during any of my training routes. The snow drifts here because this stretch of road has agricultural test fields for the University of Minnesota alongside it, so for half a mile, I have the same conditions as running in the country. It’s always a windy place and generally not my favorite part of my routes.

During my first lap I ran through a few drifts, before I jumped to the side of the road to run. The traffic wasn’t bad yet, so I was fine, but I knew I’d have four more laps of drifting snow during this mile stretch. As I made the next turn on my square, the sidewalk was in decent condition, so I was okay, but then I made the last turn to go back towards home and I was faced with crappy sidewalks again. I made it through the first lap about 4 minutes slower than I planned, but felt that I knew what the conditions would be for the other four laps, so I would be fine.

The second lap, which I did in reverse, broke down almost immediately. Now the snow plows were out in full force. This is great for drivers, but the snow’s got to go somewhere, right? Where does it go? On the sidewalk, of course, so now I have about 6 inches of snow to trot through. Unless the wind gets it and starts drifting, which my busy section of road did. The second lap I ran in the road, but had to be very conscious of where the cars were and hope that they saw this large, bundled person lumbering down the road towards them. During this lap, I starting thinking about finishing inside. I don’t like to split the workout like that, but sometimes you have to doing this kind of thing. I got through the second lap and started the third, again reversing myself so I was headed in the same direction as the first lap. The busy road drifts were worse, bad enough that I was not on the side of the road any longer, but at the edge of the right lane. Luckily, traffic was not bad for the time I was on the road, but I decided that I would finish this lap and head inside.

I probably should have figured out which of my routes I could graft onto this run to be able to go farther before coming inside, but I couldn’t remember distances for the routes I could have done, so I decided to try to stick it out. I got done with the third lap and came in to finish inside. This was not the way I thought my 20-miler would go, but I have another one in two weeks, so we’ll see how that goes. The joys of running in Minnesota in the winter!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goofy Challenge training, part 9

This past Saturday, there was no snow, but I had an interesting run anyway. My 12 mile run was cut short by about a mile and a half due to tummy troubles. There is nothing like getting a gurgly tummy at the point farthest from home. I tried to tough it out, but had to think quickly to re-route myself home. It was also cold, so that did not help, but I made it home and everything turned out fine.

This Saturday is my first 20-miler this training cycle and I think that I will do my 4 mile route in a 5 lap loop, rather than do my 20 mile route. The weather is supposed to be cold with some snow, which doesn’t bother me, but the events of last Saturday have given me pause about being too far from home. Additionally, my wife will be at her sister’s house to bake cookies while I’m running, so calling for a ride is out. I’d rather be around a loop I know well and I know has a couple of restrooms on it I can use. Let the run begin!