Weekly Wrap-Up: October 24-30

The New York City Marathon is one week from today. (On a related note, I don’t think I’ll be posting my Weekly Wrap-Up next Sunday.)

I’m not really nervous yet. Mostly at this point, I’m just wondering how it will go. I’m watching the weather. I’m not going to jinx it by saying anything, but the fact that you don’t see me complaining about rain/wind/heat/cold should tell you everything you need to know. Then again, things can definitely change in the next 7 days. Mother Nature’s gonna Mother Nature.

I mentioned last week a potential family gathering this weekend, and sure enough, I drove over to Raleigh Saturday for my nephews’ baptism. Yes, both of them in one ceremony. While I was in the church, I didn’t get struck by lightning, so there’s that. Also, my nephews are the best.

Toe Update: No toe pain. Occasionally, I feel the inflamed joint. It doesn’t hurt. I wouldn’t even call it discomfort. I just…feel it. I don’t notice the same non-inflamed joint in my right foot. As long as there’s no pain (knock on wood), it’s not going to affect my stride, and I should be OK (knock on wood some more).

Also, I stopped taking the industrial strength anti-inflammatory drugs on Friday morning. That meant that when my family went out to eat Saturday afternoon after the baptism, I was able to drink a Big Boss Angry Angel Kölsch. Normally, I think it’s a decent beer. After not having any beer for over 2 weeks, it was glorious.

Weight Check: Normally, when I do my official weigh-in, I write the number down somewhere and refer to it when I write this post. In spite of the fact that my official weigh-in was Saturday, and my write-up is being done on Sunday afternoon, I didn’t need to write anything down, because I wasn’t going to forget this number: 159.9. Holy crap! There was maybe a day or two during my marathon training last year where I dipped below 160, but it never lasted, and all my official weekly weigh-ins were over 160. By the way, that’s a loss of 3.2 pounds since last week.

Now, this was from Saturday morning (pre-run), so it doesn’t include yesterday’s 5 miles, but it also doesn’t include the soda I drank to stay alert while driving, or the big meal yesterday afternoon, or the fro-yo last night with lots of toppings, or the big breakfast I had this morning. (Is it too early to start carb loading?)

Still, I’m really happy with the result. For the rest of this past week, I limited myself to one can of Mountain Dew on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I stayed away from junk food, and tried not to snack too much. It worked, in spite of a significant reduction in miles.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday Easy 6 6.01
Tuesday 1.5 mile warm up, 2 miles at Threshold (10:30/mile) with 2:00 recovery, 1.5 mile at Threshold with 1:00 recovery, 1 mile @ Threshold, 1.5 mile cool down 7.87
Thursday Easy 4 4.01
Friday Easy 8 8.01
Saturday Easy 5 5.01

Total: 30.91 miles

Monday was nice and cool. My performance, well, as I put it in my notes, I’ve had better runs, and I’ve had worse runs.

Tuesday was the last of my possibly too complicated workout runs. They seem to work, but I still think I could come up with some more simple workouts that still make me better. My intervals were 10:20/10:18 (average 10:19/mile), 10:18/10:11 pace (average 10:16/mile), and for the last one, 9:49(!). So I finished strong. The extra mileage at the end was just me trying to get home. By the way, it’s nice to have a cool down that weather-wise actually feels like a cool down.

I generally don’t pay attention to the number of calories burned, because I have no idea how my Garmin calculates it, but I did notice for this one it said I burned 999 calories. Guess I should have run another .01.

Wednesday was a planned rest day, but it was definitely the coldest morning of the week. I do believe that if I had run, it would have been my first run in long sleeves in months.

Thursday was the treadmill. You know the drill by now, mentally excruciating, but easier on my legs physically.

Since I had my trip to Raleigh planned for Saturday, I swapped my last two runs of the week, and Friday became an 8 miler. I hate adding on to my neighborhood run to get to 8, since it either involves two trips up the really big hill, or more repetition than I’d like in the flatter parts of my neighborhood. I went with the repetition. The weather was a little warmer, but still didn’t affect me. I did OK. I somehow managed to finish in exactly 1:30:00. I don’t really pay attention to my times, only my distance, when I’m running, so I’m not sure I could have done that again if I tried.

Finally, on Saturday morning, I did my 5 miler that had been scheduled for Friday. Weather was nice, legs felt OK, and I ran fairly well.

Next Week
Monday: Easy 5
Tuesday: 1.5 mile warm up, 3 x 1 mile at Marathon Pace (11:00/mile) with 1:30 recovery, 1.5 mile cool down
Thursday: Easy 4
Friday: Easy 3
Sunday: 2016 TCS New York City Marathon

I probably should note that my actual Marathon Pace probably won’t be as fast as 11:00/mile, but that’s what I’ve been using for my workout runs. Also, in case you’re wondering, this is what I consider this a more simple workout.

That Easy 3 on Friday is in all likelihood going to end up being 3.1. There’s something about my internal wiring that, barring injury or other extenuating circumstances, I can’t just stop at 3 miles, I have to make it a 5K. (A similar thing happens when I’m scheduled for 13 miles, and I almost always go 13.1 and make it the half marathon distance.)

I’ll have one last post near the end of the week before I leave town with my last minute thoughts about the race, information for anybody who wants to track me, and possibly some freaking out.

Losing Weight

This post isn’t strictly about running, although running is certainly part of what I did to lose weight. And yes, losing weight has definitely helped my running.

First, I need to throw out the usual disclaimer. I’m not any kind of medical professional or nutritionist. The last biology class I took was in 10th Grade. This is what worked (and for a couple stretches, what didn’t work) for me.

Next, I really want to emphasize that I’m not criticizing anyone else’s weight. There’s a lot of fat shaming out there, and I don’t want to be a part of it. Only you can decide if weight loss is something you want. Some people are happy with their weight, and that’s OK. If your doctor doesn’t have a problem with your weight, and you don’t have a problem with it, that’s cool. For me, at least in 2011, I don’t think it was about weight loss as much as it was about not wanting to gain any more weight. (At the end of 2012 it definitely became about weight loss.) I wasn’t happy, so I made changes. It was completely my decision, and I don’t remember anyone else criticizing my weight or suggesting that I lose a few pounds. If my story inspires you to lose weight, or gives you some ideas for how to do it, that’s great.

For reference, I’m 5′ 8″, so according to the BMI chart (Yes, I’m aware of the problems with BMI, but at the very least it’s a measuring stick), if I’m over 164 pounds, I’m overweight.

I weighed about 150 pounds in college. I ate like a typical college student. (The Lunch of Champions: M&Ms and a Coke.) At that age, I could get away with a lot. Once I entered the real world, my weight slowly crept up. I was around 160 by the time I turned 30, which is still OK. My diet wasn’t very healthy, and I didn’t really do any cooking at home. (I still do very little, only basic stuff like pasta, so that’s something else I need to work on.) Also, I did pretty much no exercise. (I occasionally did push-ups, because they actually helped alleviate wrist pain from using a keyboard and mouse all day. Seriously, after a couple of weeks of doing push ups, the pain was gone. But again, see the disclaimer about me not being a medical professional.)

Through my 30s, my weight kept creeping up. If anything my diet got worse. I discovered craft beer, which is delicious but not very low in calories. I would drink Mountain Dew at work to deal with stress. By 2011, I was 38 years old, and up to 189 pounds.

That’s when I started running. Right after I started, I also made a conscious effort to replace soda with water during the day at work. Initially, I saw results. By the time I ran my first half marathon, the Thunder Road Half Marathon in November 2011, I was down to 181 pounds.

After my race, for reasons I don’t completely understand, I stopped running. The best explanation I have is that after completing a half marathon, I asked myself, “What’s next?” And I didn’t really have a good answer. I fell off the wagon with the water thing too, and went back to soda, often drinking three 20 ounce bottles of Mountain Dew in a single day at work. I drank lots of beer, I ate like there was no tomorrow, and my weight kept going up.

I remember sitting in my parents’ living room on Christmas Day 2012, and even before dinner, I felt fat. I don’t remember ever feeling like that before, even after a large meal. At the end of 2012, I stepped on my bathroom scale, and I saw 199. Even though nobody was around, I let out an audible gasp. I had my answer to the “What’s next?” question: 200 pounds. This was completely unacceptable.

On New Year’s Day 2013, I went out for a run. I was the Human Cliché, going for a run on January 1. This time, though, I stuck with it, and since then, except for a couple of times when I was injured and couldn’t run, I haven’t stopped running.

Running was good, but I’ve heard people say that you can’t outrun your diet. (I’d argue that it’s possible, at least for me, but I have to put in a whole lot of miles to do it. And in early 2013, I was nowhere close to being able to run that many miles.) I needed to make some other changes.

I didn’t want to start an actual Diet. I wanted flexibility. A diet is no good if you can’t stick to it. I didn’t really want to give up every type of food that I love. Initially, I did 3 main things.

  1. Water instead of soda.
  2. No more than one beer per night. (And don’t go out for beer every night.)
  3. Portion control.

A good example of portion control is at work, we have a Moe’s. I used to get a burrito at Moe’s. I switched to getting a taco instead. It’s much smaller (and cheaper). Every little bit helps. (I’m aware that it would be even healthier if I brought a lunch from home. Baby steps.)

I never really cut back on carbs. I did cut back on the soda and beer, and most other carb-heavy junk food as well. I still managed to lose weight, but I have noticed that carbs don’t fill me up as fast as fat and protein. My diet is still pretty carb heavy, and maybe I’d be better off changing it, but for now, it’s still working.

As far as I can tell, I never did get above 199. Slowly over the course of 2013, I lost weight. I know I slipped up occasionally and drank Mountain Dew, or ate more than I should have, but by the end of the year, I was down to 178. That’s a loss of 21 pounds. I was really happy with my progress.

I hurt my foot at the beginning of 2014 and couldn’t run for a couple of weeks. Recovery was slow. I started backsliding on my eating habits, and that combined with less running meant that the pounds came back. I got back up to 186 before I finally buckled down again during the summer. And at the end of 2014, I finally did it. 164 pounds. For the first time in about 10 years, I was no longer overweight. Down 14 pounds for the year, and 22 pounds(!) since the summer. I had lost a grand total of 35 pounds since the beginning of 2013.

Since then, I’ve stayed mostly in the 160s. I had an ankle injury in early 2016 that caused me to briefly get up to 175, but by late summer, I was back down below 164.

Side note: Until I lost weight, I had no idea how much weight I carried in my face. People were complimenting me on my weight loss, and I was wondering how they noticed, since I don’t really wear anything that’s skin-tight, and then I realized it was my face. I guess the weight showed up on my face (and then came off of my face) so gradually that I didn’t notice until after it was gone.

My diet wasn’t (and isn’t) perfect. Far from it. And maybe if I made some other changes, I would have lost weight faster. But it was good enough for me. For the most part, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. I think that’s the key. If it feels like a sacrifice, I’m more likely to slip up. Really, at this point, as long as I’m in the low 160s, I’m think I’m OK. I need to keep an eye on my weight, just to make sure it doesn’t start creeping up again, And let’s face it, I’m in my 40s now, I don’t have the metabolism I used to, and I don’t have as much margin for error.

It’s not easy. There are times when I feel like if I have one night out with friends I end up 5 pounds heavier. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to order a second beer. (I’ll bend that rule for special occasions like a wedding, but the rule is really for the times I go out with friends, typically during the week.) There have been times when I sat in my cube at work, really tired and wanting a Mountain Dew so badly, but instead I got up, walked around, drank some water, and got back to work. Sure, I’ve slipped up from time to time. It seems to go in cycles. Honestly, right now I’m going through a cycle where I’m drinking more Mountain Dew. Eventually I’ll (hopefully) buckle down again and choose water instead most of the time. There’s no finish line, I just have to keep fighting.

I guess my overall point is that it’s difficult, but possible, to lose weight. And when I look at my progress as a runner as I’ve lost weight, I have say, I think it’s worth it.

Weekly Wrap-Up: October 17-23

Two weeks from today. Not that I’m counting.

In spite of the toe recovery, the fall, and the distinct lack of beer, I’m going to have to say it was actually a pretty good week. I wasn’t expecting that either.

It’s now time for me to taper before the New York City Marathon. Shortly after my long run on Saturday, I realized (and posted on Facebook) that my next double-digit mileage run will end in Central Park.

I saw a statistic this week that was downright depressing. The average pace at the New York City Marathon last year was 8:14/mile. My fastest mile ever was 8:25.3, at the end of the Charlotte 10 Miler earlier this year. It may take me a little longer, but I plan on finishing the race anyway.

Toe Update: No pain this week. Woohoo! There were a couple of times, mainly early in the week, when I could actually feel some discomfort in the inflamed joint, but I’m pretty sure I could run through that without changing my form. Since it felt better later in the week, I’m cautiously optimistic.

Also, they gave me a bottle of 60 pills. At 2 per day, that would last a full month, and would definitely last through the day of the New York City Marathon, November 6. Not being able to have a beer after the race would be completely unacceptable. So I checked with the doctor, and he said that I just needed to take the pills as long as I’m experiencing issues. My current plan is to take them for a couple more days this week just to be safe. (I don’t have any plans to meet with friends for a few days, so I won’t have any trouble avoiding beer.)

Weight Check: 163.1, up 1.4 pounds from last week. I can’t blame it on the beer. Twice this week I found myself in an Irish pub drinking water, and that’s no fun. This week, my problem was Mountain Dew. Lots and lots of Mountain Dew. Like, maybe I should have bought some stock in PepsiCo levels of Mountain Dew. All I can do it buckle down this week and drink water. (And no, not Aquafina, also made by PepsiCo. Tap water is just fine for me.) Oh, and I won’t be running as many miles next week, so I can’t outrun my diet either.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday Easy 7 7.01
Tuesday 2.5 mile warm up, 6 x 90 sec @ 5K pace (9:15/mile) w/90 sec recovery, 6 x 1:00 Repeats (9:00/mile) with 2:00 recovery, 6 x 30 sec Repeats with 1:00 recovery, 1.5 mile cool down 6.01 (non-workout)
Thursday Easy 7 7.02
Friday Easy 4 4.01
Saturday 16 miles LSD 16.02

Total: 40.07 miles

Monday was a good run. At the very end, my toe bothered me a little, but it wasn’t enough to slow me down or alter my stride. This was the first run where I finally felt like all the work I had put in over the last 3 months was finally starting to pay off.

There’s no need to go over Tuesday again. I don’t need to link to it again, either, because I did that in the second line of my introduction.

On Thursday, I considered trying to do the workout that had been scheduled for Tuesday, but ultimately, I decided I’d be better off taking it (sort of) easy because of my toe. I did decide to purposely go for a reverse split, with each mile faster than the last. I think I’ve heard some people call this a progression run. I’d never planned to do this before, but I figured it would be better than a regular easy run, but not as taxing as a workout. I succeeded, although I lucked out that the big hill in my neighborhood got split up between miles 4 and 5. If I had run a slightly different route that put all of the hill within the same mile, I’m not sure if I could have pulled off the progression. Like on Monday, I felt like I was benefiting from the last 3 months of training. Also, I have no idea why I ended at 7.02 miles.

By the way, this was my 19th and final 7 mile run for this training period. I had one 7 miler that I had to cut short because nature called (although I made up the miles later in the week), and I probably lost a 7 miler or two when I changed up my schedule to do two long runs in the same week. The 7 miler is a staple of my plan, so doing the last one feels like a milestone. Will I miss them? Meh.

Friday was a treadmill run. Mentally excruciating as usual, but probably what my legs needed the day after Thursday’s run, and the day before a planned 16 mile run.

So, Saturday. It was kind of chilly at the start, and had it been a shorter midweek pre-dawn run, I probably would have worn long sleeves, but for 16 miles where it was going to warm up, I went with short sleeves, and I was OK. I also forgot my Gu, but I survived.

Now, at this point, I knew that I wouldn’t be doing a 20 mile run during this training. I had it scheduled for last week, I had to stop early because of my toe, and I decided I shouldn’t try to run 20 this week. I’ve noticed that there are two schools of thought in marathon training. One thinks it’s a good idea to do as many as three 20 mile runs to get used to the long distance of the marathon. The other (and my co-worker who created my plan agrees with this) thinks that 20 mile runs present a huge injury risk, and at the very most, you should only do 1. Now, going into my training last year, I thought that doing a 20 mile run would provide a psychological boost, since I had never run a marathon before, so I convinced my co-worker to include a 20 miler in my plan. He left it in this year, but the week before my run, he said that if I was experiencing any pain, I should stop. (So he jinxed me.)

The point is, I may not have needed the 20 miler this year mentally, but part of me felt like I needed my 16 miler to go well (and go the full distance).

During the first 3 miles, I felt like I was going too fast, and took a couple of extra walk breaks just to try to control my pace. Eventually, I just ran, and figured eventually, I’d slow down due to fatigue. Around the 10 mile mark, my stomach started bothering me. That was really odd. I’ve never had that happen during a run. Also, I was only drinking water, no Gatorade, no Gu, no oranges from friendly strangers, so I had no idea what could be causing it. I struggled a bit in miles 10 and 11, but got through them, and eventually my stomach settled down. I sped up at the end, with mile 16 being my fastest mile, and finished strong, even adding an extra extra .01 at the end.

I was happy with my Monday, Thursday, and Saturday runs. (I guess Friday was OK, but it was the treadmill. And Tuesday, well, you know.) So that’s why I put this into the “good week” category.

Next Week
Monday: Easy 6
Tuesday: 1.5 mile warm up, 2 miles at Threshold (10:30/mile) with 2:00 recovery, 1.5 mile at Threshold with 1:00 recovery, 1 mile @ Threshold, 1.5 mile cool down
Thursday: Easy 4
Friday: Easy 5
Saturday: Easy 8

I may end up juggling my schedule next weekend, I’ve heard rumors of a possible family gathering. Otherwise, it’s definitely a taper.

Ankle Problems

No, I didn’t just hurt my ankle. Both of my ankles are OK right now, knock on wood. But since injuries have kind of been on my mind, I wanted to write about my ankle (and related) issues from earlier this year.

The problems started around late January. I noticed my left ankle felt a little sore during some of my runs. It wasn’t during every run, it seemed to come and go. It was annoying, but most of the time, it didn’t reach a point where I wanted to stop running because of it.

I made it through the Charlotte 10 Miler with no problems. After that, though, my ankle started bothering me more often. Originally, I had planned on starting up my new website (this one) on March 1, but after a pretty bad run on February 29, I decided I didn’t want to start the new site while I was having these problems with my ankle. On my old blog, I wrote a post titled, “My Ankle Ruins Everything” to explain what was going on. (It was hard to laugh at the time, but now I think that title was pretty funny.) I pushed back the launch of the new site indefinitely and started focusing on the Tobacco Road Half on March 13. My ankle seemed to hurt pretty much any time I was on pavement. I figured if I could just make it through Tobacco Road, then I could rest.

Well, you can read all the gory details in my race report, but the tl;dr version is that I made it to about the 9.5 mile mark before my ankle gave out. I managed to finish, but it was painful. (Also, right after the race, but before I posted my race report on the old site, I had another post, “My Ankle Ruins Everything, Part 2.” With any luck, I won’t need to make it a trilogy.)

I took almost a full week off from running. It was a Sunday race, and the following Saturday, I tried the treadmill. While I was running, my ankle felt OK, but after I stopped, my ankle started hurting. At that point, I decided to stop running until I could find a specialist to look at it.

I finally got an appointment on April 7. The podiatrist poked and prodded and stretched my ankle, looked at my X-rays (nothing broken, by the way), and determined that I have a condition called Equinus. It basically means I have short Achilles tendons. This puts pressure on pretty much everything that’s attached to my Achilles, and while it doesn’t really affect walking (Except for a tendency that I have to walk on my toes. And yes, when I was in elementary school, the other kids loved to point that out.), with running, it was pretty much just a matter of time before something would give out. My left ankle just happened to be the first thing to go.

The good news is that it’s treatable with orthotics. Initially, I used these cork heel lifts until I could get the orthotics custom made and delivered, which took over a month. It took a few days, first walking around in the orthotics, then running in them, but eventually my legs adjusted, and I was able to keep running, although I had to keep my mileage down at first.

The most important thing is that I’m still able to run. I know that between the race and when I finally saw the podiatrist, I had no idea what was wrong, and had no idea when, or even if, I’d be able to run again. It was not a good time. (I do realize I have an awful lot of my eggs in the running basket, and I really need to work on spreading them out a bit. This website is almost all about my running, so it doesn’t qualify as “spreading them out.”.) I got through it, though, and I’m still running, still training for the New York City Marathon.

The Fall

One thing that I somehow managed to avoid in 5+ years of running is falling during a run. Well, there’s a first time for everything.

I was running along this morning, about three quarters of a mile into my run, when I heard a guy yell, “Emma, no!”

Oh, crap. I knew exactly what that meant before I even turned my head. Emma was a dog that had gotten away from her owner and was running at me. When I looked, I saw her. She was small, barely larger than a cat, and black. It was hard to make out any other details, as it was still dark out, and my headlamp only provides so much light. I don’t actually remember hearing her bark, so I’m really glad that her owner said something. She got near my feet and I tried to avoid either kicking her or stepping on her. I managed to not harm her, but in the process, I lost my balance and fell down in the street.

My hands and my right leg just below my knee got the worst of it, but it was just a few scrapes and cuts. I got right back up and started running again. The adrenaline really kicked in at this point, because this was my fastest pace of the entire run.

Eventually, the adrenaline wore off, and after about a mile, I realized that I was bleeding on my right hand, and possibly my right leg, although that was tougher to tell while running in near darkness. I also figured that bleeding while my heart rate was elevated from running was probably a bad thing, so I ran home, but I had no intention of stopping my run. I cleaned up the wounds as well as I could, slapped on a couple of Band-Aids, went back out there, and ran almost 4 more miles, for a grand total of 6 miles for the entire run. (I was supposed to do a longer workout run, but with the stoppage, I figured 6 miles easy was really all I had time for.) They weren’t 4 great miles, but considering the circumstances, the fact that I was still out there running was an accomplishment.

So, yeah, I fell down, but I got back up and kept going. I’ve got less than 3 weeks until New York City. It’s going to take a lot more than a little black dog to stop me.

Weekly Wrap-Up: October 10-16

Well, that was a week.

I was hoping to get two posts up during the week, but that’s not exactly how I expected it to go. When Friday rolled around, I had one idea that just wasn’t worth a separate post, and one that I’m working on that’s not ready. So I threw together my flashback to my last (and, as it turns out, still my only) 20 mile training run. Maybe that wasn’t worthy of its own post, but I figured it was a fun story. Then, of course, getting a scare that I thought could keep me out of the New York City Marathon was absolutely worth its own post.

Big Toe Update: The redness on top of the joint was gone this morning. I had a planned rest day today, but I decided to try 10 jumping jacks. I didn’t have any issues. Knock on wood. Tomorrow is going to be my first run where I’ll have a chance to test it out. By the way, the anti-inflammatory drugs they gave me are not only industrial strength, but industrial sized. Yikes. (Side note, maybe they’ll also help with some of the random aches and pains I’ve been experiencing from running so many miles.)

Dental Update: I got 2 fillings on Tuesday. The one on the right side was fine. The one on the left required a second dose of Novocain, which caused the left side of my face to be numb for about 3 hours. Then, once I got feeling back, I realized that the filling was keeping me from biting down all the way, so I had to go back and get it filed down a bit. Not fun. Also, just below the tooth with the filling on my left side, my gums are sore when I brush my teeth. Other than that, I guess my fillings are OK, and so hopefully I can now retire the Dental Update.

Weight Check: 161.7, down 0.9 pounds from last week. I expected a loss, since I had two long runs since my last weigh-in, even if one was shorter than I expected. I’m also lucky that I lost, because I went overboard with the Mountain Dew this week. Thursday was really bad, because I had something I needed to do at work that was absolutely mind numbing, something that makes the treadmill feel like a run through Freedom Park, and the only way I could plow through it was with Mountain Dew. My eating wasn’t too bad this week. I had a beer on two nights, but apparently with these industrial strength anti-inflammatory drugs, I’ll have to pass on the beer this week. Like I said yesterday, it’s a bummer, but New York City is worth it.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday Easy 5 5.01
Wednesday Easy 4 4.01
Thursday Easy 7 7.01
Friday Easy 6 6.01
Saturday 20 miles LSD 13.11

Total: 35.15 miles

Monday, my legs recovered surprisingly well from last week’s long run. The weather helped, it was beautiful out there.

Wednesday I gave my legs (but not my mind) a break and got on the treadmill. My legs felt fine, my mind did not.

Thursday wasn’t great, and I noticed some fatigue in my legs, but that’s pretty normal at this point. I can’t complain about the weather, 48 degrees is ideal for me.

Friday was a little warmer, but other than my toe, I felt pretty good and finished strong. I even got a reverse split, which I haven’t been able to pull off recently.

I don’t have much else to say about Saturday’s run, other than my toe issues didn’t seem to slow me down. I’m still disappointed that I had to stop early, but I managed an 11:30/mile average pace, which I’m pretty happy with. Also, it was 54 degrees, but felt cooler, and was overcast for the most part, so that’s pretty good running weather.

Next Week
Monday: Easy 7
Tuesday: 2.5 mile warm up, 6 x 90 sec @ 5K pace (9:15/mile) w/90 sec recovery, 6 x 1:00 Repeats (9:00/mile) with 2:00 recovery, 6 x 30 sec Repeats with 1:00 recovery, 1.5 mile cool down
Thursday: Easy 7
Friday: Easy 4
Saturday: 16 miles LSD

I guess all of those runs should have an asterisk. I’d really like to get my 16 miles in this weekend. It’s still not 20, but it’s more than the 13.1 I did this weekend. It’s definitely a mental thing, though. It all depends on how my toe (and really, the rest of my body) feels. We’ll see how it goes.

As far as posting here, I’ve got two posts in the works, maybe I’ll get one of them done. Maybe *gasp* I’ll finish them both.

My Big Toe

So I had a little bit of a scare today. Ultimately, I’m going to be OK, and I’m still going to run the New York City Marathon, but there were a couple of hours where I wasn’t 100% sure.

First, let’s go back to yesterday.

I had a 6 mile run scheduled for Friday morning. As I was going along, I noticed that my left big toe started hurting. I’ve never experienced that before. I didn’t remember stubbing my toe recently, and certainly not during the run. Also, I don’t land on my big toe. I typically land on the outside of my heel, which is about as far as you can get from my big toe. I was still able to complete the run, though. (I’ll fill in a few details in my weekly wrap-up tomorrow.)

Once I was finished, the pain stopped completely. After I took off my shoes and socks, I took a look at it, and saw no swelling or discoloration. My left big toe looked pretty much the same as my right big toe, which hadn’t hurt at all. Like I normally do on Friday, I worked from home, so I didn’t walk around quite as much as usual, or spend much time standing, but I didn’t notice any toe pain. Honestly, I kind of forgot about it.

This morning, I was scheduled to run 20 miles. For the first five miles, everything was fine. After that, my toe started hurting again. Even after a walk break, it still hurt. It wasn’t so bad that I wanted to stop, but it was uncomfortable. Occasionally, there would be stretches where the pain would increase a little, but then it would go back down. It never went away completely, though.

As I was running, I was worried about making it worse by continuing to run. I was also worried that I might subconsciously start changing my stride to account for the pain, and that might cause other problems.

I got to 10 miles, stopped for water, and decided to keep going a little longer to see what happened. As I approached the 12 mile mark, I knew I needed to stop. I was just over a mile from where I parked, so I could turn around and still get the half marathon distance of 13.1. Turning around was really tough, because I felt like I was giving up, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I ended up going a little past where I should have turned around, which just added to the distance of the Walk of Shame at the end, between where I stopped running and where my car was parked. I did end up with my fastest mile at the end, because I figured if this was a serious injury, this could be the last mile I run for a while, so I’d better make it count. (I did notice the pain got a little worse when I sped up.)

Anyway, I got home and took a look at my foot. This time, I noticed a red mark just below my big toe, on top of the joint. Interesting. There was no other swelling or discoloration, and nothing else was different than my right big toe.

Normally, if I had an injury on Saturday, I’d rest for the weekend and maybe see how I felt on Monday. With New York City 3 weeks and 1 day away, I needed to get this looked at as soon as possible. If I couldn’t run the marathon, I wanted to know right away. If it was something that could be treated, I wanted to try to get it done before the race. So after getting cleaned up and eating breakfast, I went over to OrthoCarolina Urgent Care.

The X-rays didn’t show any broken bones, but they did show early signs of arthritis in the joint below my big toe. For reference, here’s a picture of someone else’s left foot.


The second joint from the top on my big toe is the one with the problem. (I can’t speak for the rest of this person’s foot, but based on what the doctor said, it looks to me like that joint is healthy in this x-ray.) In my foot, the corners of the upper bone of that joint are sharp, not rounded like the one in the picture. Basically, the joint became inflamed due to all the mileage I had been putting in.

The good news is that I can still run. The doctor recommended that I reduce my mileage, which isn’t a problem, because it’s about time for me to start tapering anyway. He also said I should ice the joint for about 10 minutes a day, and gave me a prescription for some high-powered anti-inflammatory drugs. (That means I’ll probably have to stay away from beer. It’s a bummer, but for the New York City Marathon, I’m willing to make that sacrifice.)

Also, running won’t actually make the inflammation worse. It mostly comes down to how much pain can I tolerate. (Answer: It depends. For a training run, not much. For New York City, whatever it takes to cross the finish line.) Granted, like I briefly mentioned earlier, I do worry about the pain causing me to change my stride, and that could lead to other problems. We’ll see how it goes.

The most important thing, though, is that I can keep running, and I can still run the New York City Marathon.


Flashback: My First 20 Miler

Since I’m scheduled to do a 20 miler tomorrow, I was thinking back to the 20 mile run I did during last year’s training.

Two things you need to know:

  1. When I run on the McMullen Creek/Four Mile Creek Greenways, I park at Johnston Road. There’s a path from the parking lot that goes down a hill to where the greenways meet, and Four Mile Creek goes to the left, McMullen Creek to the right. Normally, I try to finish my run before going up the hill to the parking lot.
  2. I’m a Jets fan. (No, I don’t want to talk about how they’re doing this season.)

I decided to run at McMullen Creek/Four Mile Creek for my 20 mile run. I ended up running on Sunday, because I had been out of town for a funeral the previous week, and didn’t get home until Saturday afternoon.

For the most part, it was fairly uneventful, which isn’t a terrible thing for a 20 mile run. The weather was pretty nice, about 55 degrees.

As I was approaching my last mile, I did some math. I would pass the path to the parking lot with about .75 miles left, so if I ran past it to about the 19.60 mark and turned around, I’d just need to go .05 toward the parking lot. Since that path goes uphill (but not right away), I figured that would work.

Then, just before Mile 19.5, I saw a woman walking in the other direction wearing a Rob Gronkowski jersey.

Oh, hell no.

(As a Jets fan, of course I reacted the way I did. But I’d like to think that, at this point, most knowledgeable football fans have a healthy hatred of the Patriots and would have done the exact same thing.)

So I turned around and took off so I could pass her. It didn’t matter that I had already put in over 19 and a half miles. My hatred fueled me. I passed her around the 19.75 mile mark. (No, I didn’t say anything. Even under normal circumstances, I generally try to avoid conflict.)

Of course, the problem with this is that I had turned around early, so I got to the path to the parking lot well before I reached 20 miles. I ended up having to run all the way up the hill and halfway around the parking lot before I finally got to the 20 mile mark.

It was totally worth it.

This year, I’m doing my 20 miler on a Saturday, so I don’t expect any Gronkowski or other NFL jerseys. Maybe I’ll see some college football gear, but I don’t think anything will cause me to speed up like I did last year.

Weekly Wrap-Up: October 3-9

This week, I went into uncharted territory with my mileage and my long run. I also had to swap my Saturday and Sunday runs to avoid Matthew.

I hit a milestone this week, 1000 miles for the year. I’m going to fall short of my initial goal of 1500 miles for the year, but I wasn’t expecting my ankle to blow up like it did, and *knock on wood* barring any further issues, I should end up with a respectable number of miles.

Weight Check: 162.6, up 1.1 pounds from last week. On the one hand, since I moved my long run to Sunday, my weight doesn’t include any long runs. On the other hand, I drank a ton of Mountain Dew this past week. All these miles are really making me tired, and that’s how I’ve been dealing with it. My eating hasn’t been terrible, really. I did have a beer each night when I went out with friends Tuesday and Wednesday. But for the most part, the problem is the Mountain Dew.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday Easy 4 4.01
Tuesday 1.5 mile warm up, 8 x 3:00 at Threshold (10:30/mile) with 3:00 recovery, 1.5 mile cool down 7.31
Wednesday Easy 7 7.01
Thursday Easy 7 7.01
Saturday Easy 5 5.01
Sunday 3 mile warm up, 4 x 3 mile at Marathon Pace (11:00/mile) with 3:00 recovery, 3 mile cool down 18.76

Total: 49.11 miles

Yes, that’s a new weekly mileage record. Part of me wishes I could have gotten it to 50, but I just barely got it to 49, so it’ll have to do.

Monday I got on the treadmill to give my legs a break. I don’t remember what the weather was like that morning, but I don’t think it was either great or terrible. The treadmill, of course, is still mentally excruciating, but it does definitely help my legs when they’re feeling beat up.

Tuesday’s workout was pretty simple. The weather was OK. In my notes, I described my legs as “functional.” All of my intervals were under the target pace, and the very last interval I managed to get my pace down to 8:49/mile.

Wednesday was a no good, terrible, very bad run. I have no idea what happened. Yes, my legs were tired, but they’ve been tired since August. I can’t blame the weather, either. 57 degrees, no humidity. Every once in a while I have a run like this where I question everything, and after the run I have a strong urge to take all of my running gear, throw it in a pile, and kill it with fire. (Obviously, I didn’t do that, since I had 3 runs after this one.) Like I said in my notes, let us never speak of this run again.

Thursday was almost exactly the run that I needed. It wasn’t great by any stretch, but I felt much better, even though it was 63 and humid. No need to burn my running gear…yet. Side note, Thursday marked exactly one month until the New York City Marathon. I’m not freaking out yet, but there’s still time.

Saturday, I could have attempted my long run when it was 68 degrees, raining heavily, and lots of wind. Instead, I swapped my long run for the 5 miler that had been scheduled for Sunday. I drove to the Y, and except for the trip from my car to the entrance (and sweat, of course), I stayed dry. It’s still mentally excruciating. Also, I really don’t like doing 5 miles on the treadmill, at least not at an easy pace.

Then came Sunday.

A little background. I’m using basically the same training plan as last year, making a few adjustments for the calendar, and for work, and my trip to Portland. Last year, when I was scheduled to run this workout, we got hit with a ton of rain, and I couldn’t reschedule my workout because I had to leave town the next day for a funeral. I tried to run in the rain and gave up after 2 miles, then ended up doing two treadmill runs of 6 miles each. So this is the only workout on my plan that I had never done. Also, since I only got around 14 miles on this run last year, I ended up with no weeks over 45 miles. So that’s why I said I was in uncharted territory.

I really lucked out on the weather. 50 degrees, coolest temperature since April 10.

I also got a late start. I hydrated a little too well, and had to find a bathroom before I could get started.

My warm up wasn’t too bad. My first 3 intervals were pretty decent. My paces were pretty consistent, ranging from 10:37/mile to 10:48/mile. I felt pretty good, all things considered, for these intervals.

For the last interval, I ran the first mile in 10:46. Again, not bad. The second mile, my legs started to feel a little tired, but I managed a 10:44.

Then there was the last mile. My legs were really tired, but I put everything I had into that mile, and I finished it in 9:40. That’s a really good pace for me.

Here’s the thing, though. I can afford to pour everything I’ve got into the last mile. But that wasn’t the last mile. I still had 3 miles of cool down to run. And those miles were brutal. Like over 14:00 each mile. That brutal. Granted, I stopped a few times for water, which doesn’t help, but still. The only thing that kept me from stopping early was this thought: The Marathon doesn’t stop at Mile 25. Somehow, that kept me going, and I finished those 3 miles (and even added in an extra .1 mile to get to 18.76, a nice round-ish number).

I’m left with two possible conclusions. Either I had a major breakthrough on that 9:40 mile, and as a result, I’m going to go up to New York City and crush it, or I just completely destroyed my legs, I’m going to limp (hopefully only figuratively) through the rest of training, and my performance in New York City is going to make my performance in the City of Oaks Marathon look like my performance in the 2016 Charlotte 10 Miler. OK, the actual truth probably lies somewhere in between. (I’m still rooting for “Crush it.”) The one good sign (so far) is that my legs are tired, but I’m not noticing any pain. If that doesn’t change, I might be OK. I guess I’ll get some idea when I get out there and run again and see how my legs respond.

One other note, I need to find some new band-aids for my nipples. One fell off completely, the other shifted down about a quarter of an inch, and I ended up with some irritation on one nipple, with a tiny amount of blood (not visible on a gray shirt, fortunately). If the new ones can get through my 20 miler and stay on, they’re keepers.

Next Week:
Monday: Easy 5
Wednesday: Easy 4
Thursday: Easy 7
Thursday: Easy 6
Saturday: 20 miles LSD

The 20 miler. The big one. 6 days away.

I’m not sure what (if anything) I’ll be posting this week now that I’m completely caught up on my race history. I’ve got a couple of ideas, I just need to find the time to make them presentable. And if I don’t find the time, well, see you for the next Weekly Wrap-Up.

A Brief History of My First 8 Races

I’ve done Race Reports for all the races I’ve run since July 2014, but I ran 8 races before that. It’s been so long since each of these races that I don’t remember enough to write detailed Race Reports for each one, but I wanted to do something for them, so I decided to write up a brief summary for each one. I actually wrote most of this over a year ago, and was going to post it on my old site, but for some reason never got around to it.

September 10, 2011
Rock & Read 5K, Charlotte. 36:45.

My first race ever. It was good to experience a race before I did the Thunder Road Half. It was really cool that the overall winner was Mike Kahn, the guy who got me started running. Also, they had Highland Gaelic Ale after the race, which is one of my favorite beers.

When I ran it, the start/finish was near the Scaleybark library branch, but they’ve since moved it, and now it’s over by the Plaza Midwood branch. Also, at least in 2016, they’ve moved it to October. I haven’t been able to fit it in my training schedule since I ran it. The course I ran wasn’t too difficult, but since the race has moved, my opinion is no longer relevant. Still, it’s for a good cause, so I’d like to see if I could fit it into my schedule someday.

Also, this is the only race that I ran before I lost my car key in Ohio, so it’s also the only race without a post-race picture with my car key. I’m pretty sure my key is in my pocket, though.


Apparently I’ve never heard of a wonderful invention known as cropping.

November 12, 2011
Thunder Road Half Marathon, Charlotte. 2:49:35.

I still can’t believe I did this after running for just a little over 4 months. It was tough, especially at the end. I was worried about the 3 hour time limit, but I made it with just over 10 minutes to spare.

I broke one of the cardinal rules of racing, though. I bought a brand new long sleeved tech tee the day before the race and wore it for the first time. In my defense, all of my long runs had been done when it was at least 45 degrees out, and it was in the upper 30s at the beginning of the race.

Two things really stand out in my mind. Just before the start, I remember looking up and noticing how blue the sky was that morning. I also remember right after the starting gun, they played Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run.” As cheesy as it sounds, I loved it, and ever since then, that’s been a song that I use to get pumped up to go running. (I know the song isn’t literally about running. Take it up with the race organizers.)


First post-race car key picture. Birth of a tradition.

March 9, 2013
Get Your Rear In Gear 5K, Charlotte. 36:33.

After being lame and pretty much not running in 2012, this was the beginning of my comeback. I found out a friend of mine from high school, Tracy, was also running this race. We ran together, which was pretty cool.

It was a well organized race on a reasonable course. I’d be willing to do it again if I could fit it into my schedule.


The valet key. I have no idea why.

April 13, 2013
Come See Me 5K, Rock Hill, SC. 37:33

Worst. Race. Ever.

It’s not the organizers’ fault. I do think they could have done a better job marking the starting line, but otherwise, it was OK. I was getting over a really nasty chest cold. The worst of the cold was about a week before the race, but it cut into my training, and I wasn’t 100% recovered when I ran the race.

Someday, I’m going to get my revenge on the Come See Me 5K. I’m going to go back, when I’m not recovering from a chest cold or any other illness or injury, and I’m going to get a PR. Naturally, they’ve changed the course since I ran it, but it’s still got the same name, so revenge will still be mine.


I guess I wanted to make a quick getaway. First (and only) time I took the picture in my car.

May 25, 2013
Run For Peace At Home 5K, Charlotte. 34:49.

I had struggled with my runs in the weeks before this race for some unknown reason, so my confidence was pretty low going in. Right after the starting line, my phone had a complete meltdown (I ended up replacing it less than a week later), so I didn’t have RunKeeper, the app I used to track my runs with before I got my Garmin watch. I had no idea what my pace was. In spite of everything, I managed a new PR, beating my old record by 1:44, which is pretty significant in a 5K.

It was a smaller race, which was nice for a change. It was also on trails, which was also a nice change of pace. The trails weren’t too difficult, except for one hill in the middle. I’m not 100% they’re still doing this race, but I’d consider it. It’s a chance for (possibly) one last 5K before it gets really hot.

Valet key again. I still don’t know why.

Brief interlude: In late September 2013, I traded in my old Volkswagen Jetta for a new Toyota Prius. Before I turned over the key, I took one last picture of it. It’s the same one that I had to buy in Ohio to replace the one I had lost.


*short moment of silence*

OK, back to the races, now with a totally different car key.

November 16, 2013
Thunder Road Half Marathon, Charlotte. 2:38:26.

51 degrees and overcast. Not great weather for spectators, but excellent weather for runners. I blew away my old PR by over 11 minutes. And I proved that my half marathon in 2011 was no fluke.

When I ran the race in 2014, they changed the course. It wasn’t easier or harder, just different. And for 2016, they changed the name, and now it’s the Charlotte Half Marathon.


Landscape? Really? Uh, OK.

November 23, 2013
Charlotte Checkers 5K, Charlotte. 36:14.

A 5K one week after a half marathon? Sure!

There were extenuating circumstances. First, there were hockey tickets involved. (Will run for hockey tickets.) Second, and most importantly (Yes, more important than hockey), my friend Jess was running her first 5K. She had just completed the Couch to 5K program. So I ran with her, and it was really cool.

I wasn’t completely recovered from my half marathon, so I didn’t PR, but I stayed with Jess, even during the last mile when she tried to get me to go ahead. She still ended up faster than my first 3 5Ks. (In my defense, she’s younger than me by at least 5 years.) But it was pretty cool.

I ran it again in 2014 (on a totally different course), but they didn’t have it in 2015, and as of early October 2016, I don’t see it scheduled for this year, either. It’s kind of a bummer.

I had bib number 444. I thought that was cool.


I guess November 2013 was my Landscape Mode period.

March 1, 2014
The Road To Boston 5K, Concord, NC. 33:44

One of my co-workers organized this race to raise money so he could run the Boston Marathon. He ran it in 2012, which was the year it was like 90 degrees, and he literally almost died after the race. He skipped 2013, but after the bombing, a lot more people tried to get in, making it a lot harder to qualify for 2014, and he missed it by just a few minutes. So he raised money for a charity and got an entry. This race was part of his fund-raising.

It was cold that morning. 33 degrees. The course started with a steep downhill, and the nice part about it is that we never had to go back up that hill. I was still in the process of recovering from my foot injury, but that morning, I had a great run (although the downhill stretch certainly helped), and I set a new PR by over a minute.

To give you an idea of how small the race was, I finished 2nd in my age group. And my age group was Male 40-44, which, if you don’t know much about running, is actually the most competitive age group. (I don’t know why either.)

This was a one-time race, but if I heard about another 5K in the same location, I might consider it, although Concord is quite a haul for me.


Back to portrait mode. Pretty sure all my car key pictures since then have been portrait.

So that’s my early race history. It’s weird going back and looking at these races. I really was a different runner back then. Each race made me better in some way, though, and, with the notable exception of the Come See Me 5K (One day, I will get my revenge), I had fun at every one of them.