Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bluebells, Turtles, and Ah Ha!!

This week was more of the same... crazy work stuff, sore leg, and lots of self-doubt. I took a fast 5 mile run wednesday evening. My leg felt great during the run, but was really really tender and sore the rest of the week. I was starting to think that maybe I do have a stress fracture since there was no improvement. But again, it was not getting worse either and the pain was moving around... so what to do? Run of course... I decided last night that I would run this morning no matter what. If it hurt, well, I would run anyways since I had nothing to lose. If it was a stress fracture, Burning River was out of the question for this year so let's go out in a blaze...

Woke up at 6am to the sounds of our Bernese barking madly like always... Slopped the dogs and cat and changed into my running stuff. At the last minute I decided to wear a new pair of trail shoes. I started off into the Center Valley park for 10 miles. First mile was the usual, "This really does not feel good, why am I running, what is this all about" nonsense. I told myself to shut up, the first mile always feels bad. Second mile I had one of those 'Ah ha!' moments! I realized that I was landing on my left heel instead of forefoot! This was causing a lot of force to be slammed into my shin instead of my foot absorbing the impact. hmmm... I started to focus on how my feet were landing and being consistent. Incredibly, it felt pretty good... Ok, I can do this...

Ran up to Post road, made the turn-around and headed back down the hill, trying to concentrate on form. If I lapsed, the pain would return, making it pretty easy to know if my form was good or not. As I ran down the stairs at the observation deck, I heard something rustle in the leaves to the right. I glaced over expecting to see a squirel or snake, but instead saw a large snapping turtle! It was approx 1 foot diameter and they are really ugly. I stopped to get a better look and it immediately withdrew into its shell. I was not about to go poking around that!

I continued on to the red trail and came across a nice patch of BlueBells. These are some very pretty wildflowers and were all in bloom. This brightened up the area and my morning. I continued on my way and before long, my 10 miles were compeleted. I changed out of my sweaty clothes and stretched as I cleared out the flower beds and replaced the freewheel on the tandem.

My leg feels pretty good now, 6 hours later. I am again, cautiously optimistic, that recovery is near... I hope so because August is coming fast!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Coming back slowly...

This week went fast... I tried a short 30 minute run wednesday evening and the leg still felt tender. I was honestly pretty bummed, but kept icing, stretching, and trying not to worry about it. I knew I wanted to run today and debated on whether to run in the valley with a group or stick close to home in the park. I opted for the park. Driving an hour to run 10 miles did not seem the most efficient use of my time...

The 10 miles went well. (90 minutes...easy math for pace!) I was really going easy for the first 20 minutes or so to warmup and then it felt really good. My body seems to take 45-50 minutes to really warm up and feel good and today was no different. The weather was beautiful! Sunny, dry, the birds are all out feeling spring-like, and the woods are starting to green-up with new life. This is a great time of year in NE Ohio.

After my run, I worked a bit in the yard and landscaping. Abby and I drove up to Mayfield to the Performance Bicycle shop. The tandem is in need of a new chain and freewheel. While we were there, Abby found a pair of shorts and we picked up some Accelerade for Denise to try. Accelerade is the beverage that the San Diego marathon will be using. Denise wants to try it before race day... She has a 20 mile run planned for next weekend and will see how her stomach handles the stuff. Better to find out earlier rather than later!

Gina had her Swim Team banquet today. She won the "Most Improved" award again this year. I am really proud of how she works in practice and really listens to what the coaches tell her to do and doesn't complain. (At least on the outside! :) )

My parents are coming up for a visit tomorrow and I hope to get the drive train changed on the tandem. Abby and I are anxious to start riding again. The time we spend together on the bike is really precious and I would not trade it for anything. She is growing up too fast and some day, probably too soon, it will not be 'cool' to ride a bike with her Dad. So, I have to take advantage of this while I can.

We just finished a rousing Wii session. Bowling, boxing, golf, and tennis. Lots of laughs and fun!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Too much?

Well, I think that I have done it now.... My left leg has been a bit touchy all week from last week's huge milage. I ran the last half of Denise's 18 miler with her yesterday and the leg now has a dull ache in the front/side of the shin. The ache does move around, depending upon what I am doing so I am fairly sure that it is just some over-use, muscular thing going on. I am stretching and icing, which is helping, but, I JUST WANT TO RUN! Ok, calm down, relax... August is still a ways off, there is plenty of time. I will settle for some cross training this week instead of ramping the milage up again.

Abby and I have decided to participate in the Medina Ice Cream Odyssey bike ride this summer. It happens to be the same day as the Summer Buckeye Trail 50K. I think that spending 50 miles on the tandem with Abby will be much more fun that running 50K on the trails with 150 other people. I might just run the trails the next day instead. I was able to take the kiddy-cranks off of the tandem this year since Abby's legs extended themselves during the winter! She is really growing as of late and is quickly becoming quite the young lady. It is all happening MUCH too fast...

Denise and I watched the ' Last Lecture' this week. Daine Sawyer interviewed a guy named Randy Pausch. Randy is a Professor at Carnegie Mellon and was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. He gave a "Last Lecture" that summarized his childhood dreams, accomplishments, and life philosophy. I then watched the complete lecture friday evening. He is a brilliant and amazing person. This 100 minute lecture contains so many valuable nuggets of wisdom. One minute you are laughing, the next wiping tears. Pretty cool guy. It is very much worth the time to view. Here is a link to the presentation:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Gas in the Tank

No, this will not be a rant about the price of gasoline, but about my recovery from sunday's 41 miles.

My legs yesterday felt ok, tired, but ok. My new shoes arrived in the mail yesterday so I thought that I would try a short run to keep my legs moving. Well, this was the slowest 3.6 miles ever. I just had no zip, energy, whatever. I guess that I should not have been suprised and I should have expected it. I stretched a bit, helped Denise clean out some flower beds and settled in for the night.

This morning was another beautiful morning so of course, I had to run. Today's run felt much better. Legs are still tired, but at least I could run, not fast, but I could move! I left the watch at home and just enjoyed the sunrise and birds and peepers singing "Good Morning!"

Now, time to get to the dentist office... (I think that I would rather run again.. :) )

Gina is getting her braces removed this morning and she is obviously very very excited! It will be great to see her smile tonight!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

41 miles in the Valley..

The Fool's FA 50K was held today at Happy Days Visitor's Center. 41 people turned out to run on an absolutely beautiful day! My plan was to run two laps of the course, making for 50K, and then run some more to see how far I could go. The day was too nice to waste, besides I had a "Running Pass" from Denise since she was still high from her 17 mile run yesterday. (Gotta love those endorphins!)

The course consisted of a 25K loop starting at the Happy Days Visitor center parking lot. A FA (fat-ass) run is a loosely organized event where there are no awards, course markings, fees, whining, or whimps! In other words, a glorified group run. The course traveled on the Ledges Trail, to Pine Grove trail, to Kendall Lake trail, to the cross-country ski trail, to Salt Run trail and back to Happy Days via Ledges trail. There is a wide variety of surfaces and terrain. It also covers miles 64 to 75 of the Burning River 100 course.

The first lap was fun since I hooked up with an old friend, Derek, from my old swimming days at Twinsburg Fitness Center. Brian also ran with us. If you remember, Brian was the bad karaoke singer from the winter 50K run. I told him that every time "Rock you like a hurricane" comes up on Guitar Hero, I flash back to that run. He tried to start up another round of trail running karaoke, but it was too early in the day and everyone was still thinking clearly...

The miles passed quickly as we ran across a variety of surfaces and terrain. Mud, gravel, grass, rocks, etc. It was really a great course. Derek stopped at Happy Days and Brian took an extended food break so I completed the first lap alone and finished in 3 hours flat.

I refilled my bottles, restocked my gels and clif bars, and started lap #2. I was pretty much running alone for the rest of the day. Most people stopped at the 25K mark and the only people I saw on the course were other people out hiking and enjoying the fantastic spring day. This lap was going a bit slower than the first lap, but I was feeling ok. My legs started to feel a bit tight so I took an electrolyte capsule as a precaution, to see if it would do anything. My legs felt much better in a few minutes. So I planned to take one every 1 hour or so since I only had 4 tablets with me.

I returned to the parking lot with 5 hours 30 minutes elapsed time. Lloyd told me that I was close to finishing the 50K in 6 hours. I knew better. I ended up completing the 50K in 6:13. I was the 4th 50K finisher! That proved that not too many people ran the extra lap! :)

Lloyd suggested some options for more miles and I had pretty much decided that another 4 miles would be good enough for today. I again refilled bottles, restocked my supplies, and left the parking lot for a few more miles. I had called Denise to check in and they were at South Chagrin Metropark hanging out in the sunshine with the dogs. She said there was no reason to hurry home so I had no excuse not to make the most out of this beautiful day.

My plan for the extra miles was just to run, no time pressure to get anywhere. As I was running, I kept thinking about options for the extra miles and how far I really wanted to go. I was toying all week with the idea of 3 laps, or 75K. I decided that plan B would be a third lap and chop off the Boston Run Trail and the Pine Grove trails. This would give a 10.75 mile loop. As I ran I was thinking that I really did not want to run the Salt Run loop, which would give me 39 miles for the day. This did not feel right either, but I decided that is what it would be. I refilled my bottles at the Kendall Hills bathroom and started toward the Salt Run trailhead to make the connection back to Ledges and Happy Days.

I stopped at the trail and stood there for a minute, trying to decide if I should just run the entire loop or cut it short. Then it hit me, there was a short-loop for the Salt Run trail, which would give me 41 miles! THAT'S IT! I had a huge smile on my face as I started down the trail singing "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen.

I was still feeling ok, not good, but ok. I just tried to keep moving, drinking, and eating. The ledges trail was pretty crowded with people hiking and that kept me moving. I made it back to the parking lot after a total of 8.5 hours of running and was very happy with how the day had turned out. Besides my 45-mile birthday run of last July, this was the longest distance I have run. I rounded out the week with a grand total of 60 miles. That's a new record for me, but I know I will have bigger weeks and longer runs to come.

I drove home and it is always a shock to get out of the car and hobble into the house. I was greeted by the usual barking dogs and you-stink-and-are-muddy comments from my two girls. I showered and we went out for dinner where I had my traditional post-big-run burger. Denise and I have walked once around the block to flush the legs. I hear my bed calling me...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Daddy/Daughter Cake Bake

Abby's girls group at church had their Daddy/Daughter Cake bake wednesday evening. This photo was of Abby and I after we completed our "campfire cake". We baked it tuesday evening and put the finishing touches on before we left wednesday evening.

Abby found the recipe on Family Fun Magazine's web site and at first, I honestly thought it was not going to turn out very good. We baked a practice cake sunday evening and I was very suprised at how well it turned out and how real the logs looked!

Pound cake logs, chocolate icing with grooves from a fork make the bark. The ends of the logs are white icing with a bit of chocolate icing mixed in to make tan. The 'embers' are chocolate donut holes sprinkled with powdered sugar. The flames were made from fruit roll-ups.

It was a lot of fun spending time with Abby baking. She usually helps me make risotto or helps me bake a cheesecake, so the kitchen thing is not new. What was nice however was that she picked the project this time and we had a blast!

Crazy week as usual. It seems that both Denise and I were constantly on the go, each of us different directions. The weather is getting warmer and Denise has a 17 mile run planned for tomorrow and I am running the "Fool's FA 50K" sunday. It is supposed to be near 60 degrees sunday and sunny!!!! Hello sunburn.... I will need to apply sunscreen for the 6 or so hours that I expect to be running. But, it will feel oh so good to sweat because of the heat!!!

A final close-up picture to close.