Sunday, March 9, 2014

This is what your coach tells you NOT to do!

The Shamrock race has come and gone. It was the fourth race in four weeks and the second in seven days. As expected it was a big race and since it was Gun-timed it got jammed packed at the start line. 
As I mentioned in my last blog this race did not mean a whole lot for me. I was running on tired legs, it was an early evening race (not my favorite time to run) and my second in six days, it had been raining all day and the roads were still wet. A lot of the course was on cobble stones and although it was an out-n-back it went around four squares making it impossible with this many runners to run a true 3.1 distance. I wanted to have some fun in this one and not push or hold any pace.
 I thought I was safe 7-8 rows back from getting trampled. The start horn sounded and I took off with the crowd. I got "pulled" by the front runners to a 6:15 pace for the first three-four hundred yards. Not ready for that pace yet I knew I had to slow down or I wouldn't be able to finish the race.
 At the first mile marker my GPS read 7:23, a little faster than I would like to be but it felt comfortably-hard so I thought "what the heck, let's see how long I can carry this". By this time most of the runners has settled in their positions. In front of my a female runner was keeping a good steady pace to the right of her and a couple of yards ahead was a male runner who was breathing pretty heavy but keeping the pace. All three of us held our positions as we passed the water station which was at the half-way point.
 I can see the mile marker #2 coming up and by now the male runner is breathing heavier and slowing down as I can hear his heavy steps behind me. 
My split at mile two was 7:42, I was slowing down and so was the female runner that I kept pace with. I knew I had started this race too fast to maintain but it was too late to do anything about it. 
My "Negative splits and Strong finish" strategy was out the window for this race. 
With only three hundred yards to the Finish line I tried to "turn it-up". My engine felt like an old diesel ...heavy and steady but not much speed to it. My body felt like I was going fast but I wasn't. 
Mile marker three, pace 8:08 with less than 200 yards to go I wanted to finish strong but my strong was 7:00 flat. 
GPS time for 3.1 miles  24.01 avg pace 7:44. 

Back to Training

 Glad this race is over. My new training plan starts with the end of this race.
I'm  excited to put this new plan together as I have added two long runs into my speed work and one hilly long run and some ancillary workouts.
 It is exactly eight weeks till the next 5K and my goal is a PR.

Happy Running

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Coming back

It has been eight months almost to the day since my last surgery and finally things are getting back to normal. Well almost normal or what I would call "the new normal". Having lost 63 lymph nodes to cancer my lymphatic fluid from pelvic area and legs does not flow as before so I have to wear compression pants while running, recovering, working and anything in between. It's just the new way of life.
After ten months of treatments (four of those in chemotherapy) and two surgeries (a major one in June 2013) I have managed to get from putting one foot in front of the other to running almost as fast and as strong as before it all started. It has not been easy and it has been in very small gains week after week, month after month.
One of my surgeons said that I should not run anymore but instead swim or bike. For those of you that are runners you know that running is most rewarding! My last surgeon said "run as much as you want, but wear compressions" that was all I needed to hear!

On August 5th 2013 I was cleared to start running again.
I researched running compressions and tried different ones coming to the conclusion that the Zoot Ultra 2.0 worked the best for me. They have the highest compression (30mmHg) in the running apparel  market.
I own medical compressions too, I just don't like to run in them as they feel too stiff and are not made for running.
With my new running compressions tights and my Merrell Bare-access shoes on I started my new training regiment.

It all starts with a good base

Slowly started building the miles week after week for twelve weeks until I reached 45 miles per week. The pace was not the best but that did not matter at this phase. I wanted to build a good solid base with plenty of slow miles with a Tempo run sprinkled in once every couple of weeks.

Coming Back 

By November I was fit enough to run the Rock and Roll Half in Savannah. I crossed the finish line with my slowest time ever (Finish time 2:15:18) but It felt so amazing for two reasons. First, I was back, running and racing is what I love and neither cancer nor lymphedema had taken that from me and second I ran the entire 13.1 miles without any walking reassuring that my endurance was coming back.
After this race I decided to build a little more on my base while I added more Tempos and speed intervals.

All Clear

On December 30th I had my first PET scan as part of my six month follow up, post surgery, to see if any of the cancer cells had survived and spread. I felt so good physically and mentally and I knew there was no more cancer in my body but I had to prepare myself for the worst. I did not want to sign up for any more races because I wasn't sure where I will be in the near future.
My Oncologist called within three hours from the test (a truly Great guy) and said "Great news....All Clear".
A Happy New Year started a couple of days sooner for me!

A Great New Year

With the goods news I received and my training in full swing I signed up for the "Adidas Lucky 13 series" which is a series of 13 races from 5K to Half Marathon in the span of the year 2014.

First race was on January 4th, a trail 5K. This race was not for me. A fast race on a trail, I had built a good base but not speed and had spent no time at the trails so I decided to start in the back and maintain a fast comfortable pace. Finish time 26:32.

Next race was January 11th. (not part of the 13 series) another trail race but this time a 25K, definitely ready for the distance but, again, not the trail! Finish time 2:46:26

Feb 1st was the second race of the series, a Half Marathon on flat pavement on Tybee Island, Georgia.
Going into this race I had no great expectations but to beat the November Rock and Rock Half (2:15:18).
It all started great, after a couple of hundred yards as the crowd thinned out I sped up to 8:40 pace and maintained it till mile 9 when I started feeling the fatigue taking over my legs core and slowly creeping up to the rest of my body. By mile 11 I had settled for 9:30-10:00 min pace. Finish time 2:04:40, almost a minute faster per mile since November. This race made me realize that my endurance limit was between 8 - 10 miles so there was still work to be done!

First road 5K of the 13 series, Feb 22nd. This was going to be more of a reality test than the last races since it was on paved road out and back. Still not ready for racing I started in the middle making my goal to run as fast as I can without pushing too hard. After clearing the crowd for about 100-150 yards my splits were
8:20, 8:07, 7:57, 6:42. Finish time 25:01 It could have very easily be sub 25 if I had started closer to the front of the Start line, but who cares!
Lisa tells me, after every race "you should start closer to the Start, you're better than you think" my reply to her is always the same "I will when I actually race".
I use these races to measure my fitness and performance and adjust my training so I can reach my goal.
I really don't see myself racing before Summer or Fall.

Race #4 of the series also a road 5K. This race was 300+ runners last year but this year almost 600 runners showed up. All packed like sardines I knew it will be a very slow start. My mind was made up before the race, the same as before, this is a "tune up race" no need to rev up no need to push too hard just  run as fast as I can at the threshold of comfortable and hard and see what happens. The horn goes off and 600 runners flood the road ahead. The course is flat with only a few turns. 24:30 minutes later I crossed the Finish (Official Finish 24:32 Gun time). Split times 7:53, 7:51, 7:46, 7:30.
Times are getting better, I'm regaining most of my strength and is clearly evident I'm building up the endurance .
I'm staying with my current training schedule it seems like is working for now.
There's no swelling from running, compressions help to keep it at minimum. No major issues from lymphedema so far. I always wear recovery compressions post hard workouts and races.

Next race Friday March 7th at 6pm. Not really looking forward to that one since morning is my favorite time to run and since fluids tend to accumulate after a day at work by late afternoon and evening. Depending how I feel at that time this may be an easy run far from racing or any type of speedwork.

--Happy Running