Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Beginnings

Time to train again, something to push me out the door. I signed up to run another 100 miler and I am getting excited about it. Of course, I am also excited about the fact that I am taking next semester off from school. Do I have any idea of which one I am more excited about? Not really.

Pam Dolan inquired about whether anyone was interested in running at the New Jersey Ultras in March. I have been pining to do another 100 miler and although this is not one that was high on my list (it actually did not even make my list), it is flat, on a loop course and looks easy; maybe not exactly bragging rights, but 100 miles is 100 miles. I have already started increasing my mileage and since it is on a dirt road, I am not too, too worried about running trails to get back into shape. I am looking forward to doing the training and to doing the run. In addition to Pam, Rosemary O. has decided that she is going to go down and run the 50-miler along with two of her friends. That will be cool to have some other people I know down there.

Ah, school. This semester is coming to a close, with the last week ending on 17 Dec. I do not have a lot of good things to say about the e-commerce class (very information intensive, but we are not supposed to delve too much into all that information for our papers), but I have enjoyed the Globalization course. But I am going to enjoy finishing up both the classes. I really hit a rough patch about three week back and fired off an email to the class advisers that I needed to take the next semester off to recharge my learning batteries. I have been so frustrated with the format of the school and how we have to complete our courses. I just completed a survey that the school sent out that inquires as to how satisfied I am with the school and the last question was, "Would I recommend the school to someone?" and I said maybe not. That may change after I come back in April, but I have to become satisfied with my learning. Right now, in the e-commerce course, I really do not think that I am learning anything, just going through the motions. I have lost the motivation to get excited about the content of the course.

Here's to taking some time off and getting some things done around my home, spending a bit more time with Carol and getting 6-7 days/week of running in for my training. It should be fun.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I am almost content right now. This could change very quickly, but right now, I am happy. My running is going well and all my parts are feeling good, with no pain in any of the areas that have been bothering me in the recent past. I have a day and a half before I begin my next two classes, so I want to enjoy this feeling while I have it. I was feeling so good these past three weeks with no classes and with my running that I decided to sign up for a race. It is a half-marathon trail race up near Albany NY that will be run on Halloween this year. From what I understand, the race staff go out of their way to make the race very enjoyable (scary?). I plan on running the race in my Vibrams. I just read in the Ultrarunning magazine about a runner who won a ultra trail race in Vibrams. As far as myself, I have no plans on winning the race, just a plan to finish with no major problems. Should be fun. Hopefully school will not stress me out this semester like the last one did, although have you seen the price of school books? The book for my e-commerce course is out of this world at $140.00. For one book!! Anyway, I will be working hard to keep my personal stress levels down this semester, making sure to get out at least three times a week for a run, at least once on the trails. Maybe I should write that down on the calendar.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It is fall, probably my favorite time of the year, especially for running. I like the cooler and colder weather for running, as I find it easier to warm up than to cool down. But that is not what this post is about. I have been absent from this forum and from most everything else except for work. My running has suffered, although it has helped me to recover from the various injuries that seem to haunt me. I started going to an on-line college in January of this year, working to attain a degree in Business Management. After the first two semesters of one class per, I started taking two classes this past semester over the summer. It pretty much limits how much extra time that I have. When I am not working, I am doing school work. I was able to carve out time to run maybe twice a week over the summer (and that was not guaranteed). I am currently enjoying four weeks between the summer semester and the beginning of the fall semester. This coming weekend is the last full weekend before classes begin anew. I find that, while I am looking forward to completing this journey, I am dreading the time that I will lose with my wife and the time that I will not have to find a trail to run on. After the fall semester, I have two complete years before I am done (as long as I continue to take two classes per). At my age, is it worth it? Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another new beginning

So again, I have been sidelined by an injury. This time I strained my right Achilles while running in the Ragnar Relay in May. I thought at the time that things were going well with rehabbing my left hamstring and that running Ragnar would be okay. Unfortunately the Achilles did not like the first leg that I had to run and running the second and third legs that I had to do did not make it any better. Actually, doing the two other legs made it worse, as anyone would expect and when I was finished, I was finished. Now it is almost two months later and I am very tentatively running again. The doctor gave me the green light four weeks ago. I ran a mile and a half, felt a twinge and shut it down. I walked back to where I started and did not try again for two weeks. So last Tuesday, June 28th, I ran four easy miles and everything felt pretty good. The heel was a little tight after the run so I did not run again until this past Monday. I ran for about 45-50 minutes while in Freeport, Maine and really enjoyed the run. Again, it was real easy and I did not push it at all. The real test was last night when I ran again. This time it was easy due to the excessive heat and humidity. I went six plus miles but I walked up the big hill just before the three-mile mark. Being as I have not been running in the heat, I think that I depleted everything in my body, but the Achilles felt good. I have been stretching it today and it still feels good. A good sign, but I will take off until Sunday when I will go for a run at the Bluff to see how it feels running on trails. I am heartened by how everything is going right now, but I am continually reminding myself that I need to pull back on my impulse to go crazy. For right now, I will keep on biking as much as possible and look for positive things each time I go for a run.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New day, same result

I did it again. I cannot seem to stop the avalanche of problems that seems to grow and grow each time I try to do something.
I ran in the Ragnar Relays this past weekend, starting the run at 11 am Friday morning at the library in Branford and running with my teammates to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. I ran three legs of the race, starting with the third leg Friday afternoon. I ran in my Vibram 5-fingers, thinking that this should be a good time to run easy in them. It was pretty warm by the time that I started but not so bad that it was oppressive. I actually enjoyed the temperature while I was running. Unfortunately my Achilles did not think it was so enjoyable. The leg was 6.8 miles long and by the time I got through 2.5 miles of that, I had a dull ache in the heel of my foot. It got worse. By the time I had finished, the pain was radiating up the back of my leg in my calf.
I strapped a cold pack on the foot and swallowed a couple of ibuprofen tablets and hoped for the best. My teammates were concerned whether I would be able to run again, but I told them not to worry, I would keep up my end of the bargain and still run my legs. I was also supposed to run another leg due to another runner having to drop out beforehand due to injury. I was not so sure about that one. I did not have to worry, since the team captain made an executive decision and took that leg away from me. It was a good thing that happened.
The second leg that I was running was 7.6 miles long. I did not wear the Vibram's, but instead wore a pair of shoes without the insoles. My leg started around 11 pm which was nice with a half-moon in the sky, mostly clear skies and comfortable temperatures. My heel hurt from the start, very painful in the heel and up into the calf. It took about half the run until I could figure out how to reduce the pain. I shortened my stride (about half of my normal stride) and it helped immensely! I was able to run the rest of the run pretty well, with the only problem being on the downhills, where my stride wanted to lengthen naturally. I just had to concentrate on keeping it short.
The third leg occurred at 6 am Saturday morning. What a beautiful morning for a run! It would have been that much better if I could have actually run normally. Nothing I did produced any relief from the pain. I had put some Sports Cream with heating on the heel before the run, I started running with a shorted stride right away and I had taken another couple of ibuprofen before the run. Nothing helped. The van with my teammates had parked at the half-way mark of the run (6.4 miles total) but just before I saw them, I had been telling myself that I was going to give it up when I did meet them and let someone else run for me, because the pain was that great. But when I crested the small hill and saw them parked there, the only thing that came out of my mouth was, "Nope, I am doing fine. See you at the end". Just like me, stubborn jackass! I could not let someone else finish something that I had started.
So I finished. I was cooked. The heel felt like it was on fire and the calf felt like someone had shoved a knife in it and was continually moving it around. I have not gotten much better since then. I am right now wearing an ice pack wrapped around the heel/calf. When I got up this morning, the heel was quite swollen and very, very tender and tight. My plans to run this coming weekend at Nipmuck are shot. I am pissed off about that as I was really looking forward to a good trail run. I am not going to schedule any races for the rest of the year. I have to get healed, healed to the point where I do not get injured running in a race. The one thing that I already have scheduled is the Lake Winni relay, which I will use as a goal and when I run it, a barometer for how I am doing. As much as I do not want to, I will probably forgo doing any ultras this year (unless late in the year when hopefully everything is going well). I have my annual physical (once every five years or so) scheduled for tomorrow and I will see if the doctor will send me for some physical therapy. I have to get back to what I love, the woods either by myself or with some fellow trail runners. I have to renew my efforts to stay off the roads. I have to stay sane.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It has been awhile, again. I have been running in the Vibram 5-fingers for a couple of months now and I have to say that I am enjoying them. I really like the trail pair, the Treks. They are very comfortable and grip very well. The only problem with them is that when they get wet, I end up getting blisters (since I am running without socks). But overall, I do not regret making the change. I probably could have eased into it a bit more than I did. So this is the reason for this post.
I tweaked my left hamstring again two weekends ago while running with Pam, Davnet and Grace at Hartland Park on the Saturday. I ran about 3.5 miles on Tuesday evening and it felt okay, but not anywhere close to 100%. I did not run anything else until Saturday. Now Saturday is the L & M Hospital 3.5 mile race that starts one block from my house and I normally run, walk or just hang out every year. But my friend Melanie was the race director for a race in Westerly, a 5K which I have never run so I decided to make the journey there and try an easy run in my Vibram's.
The race went well, so well that I ended up running a sub 7-minute pace. During the race I had no problems with the shoes. But afterward was a different story. When I went out to get in a cool down run, I had to stop because of the pain on my left foot. I had a huge blood blister that I did not feel while racing, but after cooling down, wow, it was there. But that is not the major problem. About an hour after the race I noticed a pain radiating along the outside of my right foot. It got worse. I iced it for a bit and took some ibuprofen and I have not run since. I wanted to run the following day in the woods, but the person that I was supposed to run with did not show, so I decided to not run. That was probably a good decision. If I walk around barefoot, the pain is barely there. Once I put a pair of shoes on, the pain returns. I have not run nor have I ridden the bike. It is getting better, but since I am on my feet quite a bit during work, the foot is quite sore by the end of my shift. Hopefully I will be able to run soon, at least get out for a short jog to see how it reacts. I cannot seem to get away from being injured. I just want to be able to run, especially out on the trails.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another return

I pulled or slightly tore my left hamstring at the end of January. Of course, I was doing something stupid, doing speed work early on a very cold morning in shorts. By now, you would think that I would learn. I think that I have said that before. I have been seeing Dr. Strecker, who has helped me out with ultrasound and stretching. He also has given me some exercises to strenghten the muscles that complement the hamstrings.
I read the book Born to Run and have been running without insoles inside my shoes. I believe that it has helped me with my running form and keeps me healthy (minus the hamstring). While on vacation in Las Vegas, I found a kiosk that was selling Vibram Five-Finger running "shoes" and bought 2 pairs - one for the roads and a heavy duty pair for running on the trails. I started running again (with the doc's blessing) while on vacation. I took my first run in San Diego along side the Pacific Ocean (wow, were the waves huge!) and felt good. I ran every other day as I want to take it easy getting back to normal. I found the kiosk the day after Carol and I drove from San Diego to Las Vegas and Carol told me to buy two pair (now is she not a fantastic person, in addition to being gorgous). I started running in them the next day. The soles of the shoes are thin with toes. Basically they are barefoot runners. The idea is that they make runners run the way that the human body is supposed to run; on the balls of the feet and shortened strides. As far as I was concerned, they felt good. Of course the bottoms of my feet are very tender from all that time encased in do-it-all for you shoes. I feel any little stones that I run over. The other thing about them is they make my calfs very sore. At least the pair that I bought to run on the roads.
This past Saturday, I ran with the Saturday Slugs in Stonington. It rained the whole time, although I only ran 5 miles. The big thing was that later in the afternoon, I discovered a blood blister on the big toe of my right foot. That was the first for me and I am guessing that it was because of the rain wearing the shoes.
On Sunday, I went for my first trail run at Bluff Point, wearing the trail version of the shoes. It was very wet with just a bit of rain. The trail version fit well, but I ended up with a blister on my blister. But the shoes were good. I did not feel most of the stuff that I stepped on. They worked very well on the wet rocks and just like normal running shoes, they were slippery in the mud. The big thing was that my calfs were not sore from the trail running, at least not like they were when I ran on the roads.
A friend suggested that I do not run in the Vibram's twice in a row, worried that I would blow out a calf muscle. I may take his advice. I do know that I want to accelerate my use of these shoes. They make my knees feel better. Hopefully they do the same thing for my back. Once it gets warm enough, I will be walking around barefoot as much as possible. Gotta toughen up my feet.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Long time between posts

Wow, it has been quite some time since my last post. With work and now school, I do not seem to have much free time lately. School is an interesting situation. I do not always agree with the methods and the teachings that the school is having me do, yet I am not sure what I can do with my disagreement. Normally I can be pretty caustic about anything that displeases me, caustic in the sarcastic way. But if I send an email to the professor about something that I do not like, is that going to affect my grade? I am through 4 complete units and until the last on in unit 4, I had gotten 100 on everything. I got a 95 on the last one so I sent an email to the professor asking what it was that I did or did not do, saying that I did not want to repeat whatever it was. She said that I was not as thorough as the others, but if I wanted to argue about it, she would listen. I have to reread what I sent in.
At least the school is keeping me busy. I am not running. Dummy me that I can be, I decided to work on my speed-during some of the worst cold this winter. Three weeks ago last Tuesday, I pulled my left hamstring while doing intervals on the road. I did not run again until the following Saturday. First I did a bike spin in a friend's garage and then I went out for a 6-mile run. At least most of it was in the woods. I should not have done it, but by the time it started to bother me, I was out in the woods and I had to get back, so I continued to run. I went and saw Dr. Strecker and he has been using ultra-sound on it. I can go for a while and think that it is getting better but then I do something like almost run into something and pull up short and oh, the pain! So I am erratically working out; I swam this past Tuesday. I have done yoga once and am doing some body weight workouts. Pretty much takes me out of the running to do the new CT 50K this April. I was looking forward to that. So now hopefully I can get well enough to run the Yale to Harvard race. I would hate to let the team down.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Happy New Year! Goodby 2009, hello 2010. Looking out the window this morning, the world has the look of a new world, with the snow blanketing everything. Here's hoping that it portends a good change for most people in this new year. I will probably be going to Mystic to run with approximately 100 crazy people who will crawl through 5 miles and then jump into the chilly Long Island Sound. I always wonder if there is any benefit to chilling out warm limbs or is there a detrement? It does feel to me like a major washing off of anything that was bad in the last year. Since I do this most years, it has allowed me to enjoy the feeling of purity when I come out of the water (not that I should or would be considered that).
I know that only one person reads this, but I will put this down anyway. Happy New Year to my friends and family! Here is hoping that the year treats everyone well and that all of America has a better year than last. Hope to see everyone out on the roads and trails.