Friday, June 27, 2008

A Week to Heal

My run last Monday was quite possibly my most challenging to date. It was a hot summer afternoon in the Valley and my rest the night before left much to be desired. I had also been experiencing some pain in my ankles from the Saturday morning run. Add to all this the fact that I neglected to hydrate myself before my run and I was set for some serious mental training.

As I started my run, I was immediately greeted with my new nemesis… ANKLE PAIN. The pain swelled to something fierce in the first mile, and it was all that I could do to keep my feet chasing after each other. I thrusted myself through the first mile and began to feel a bit of relief from the pain - though it was still there my attention instinctively turned to the dust bowl that was my mouth. Fatigue, lack of water and pain were taking there toll on me as pushed through miles two and three. I wrapped up my run with a final half mile sprint to the local 7-Eleven, where I found myself chugging an ice cold water in front an open cooler; a true moment of bliss that I will not soon forget.

The pain that soon came after the completion of this revelatious run was of significant concern to me. As I sat with ankles wrapped in bags of frozen pees, I contemplated my training schedule for the next week - I want to go to every practice to keep up, but I also want to complete the marathon injury free. My trainer always said listen to your body. And listen I did - when it came time for our midweek run, I got over halfway to our meeting spot and decided to turn around. It was a tough decision, but the right one I feel. Though I have a strong will power, I refuse to let my ego get the best of me.

I ended up taking the remainder of the week off from practice, even missing the 5 mile run on Saturday (which I really wanted to do). Instead, Jamie and I spent Saturday through Tuesday celebrating our 2-year wedding anniversary. We went wine tasting in the Santa Barbara wine country, soaked in mineral springs (ooooooh did this feel good on my beat to hell body) and braved the elements with a night of beach camping in Jalama Beach (which turned out to be a crazy story; ask me about it, I can't post it).

The week off significantly improved my ankles, and I was able to join my fellow runners back on the path for a midweek 4-miler. Although I may be a scoatch behind, I think I prevented a longer hiatus.

Try and keep up with me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coagulating Runners

Our team is starting to settle into its groove. Now that we are each establishing a comfortable running pace, runners are coagulating into smaller pace groups (assigned by our coach Brett, based on our 1 mile time). There are three runners in my group; me, Eloy and someone I have yet to meet. We are the second group back from the lead group (which consists of just one runner), so we’re not looking too bad.

Our run began with the usual stretching routine. The pace of this routine seems to getting quicker; probably due to a combination of us knowing the routine and that we want to get running before the blistering heat sets in. The run started out fairly chaotic as runners scurried about locating their respective pace groups. I immediately found Eloy and we headed out to the front of the pack.

As we took off, the heat of the day was beginning to set in. I could feel the warm air oozing in and replacing the more favorable cool air. As we surged down the path I could tell this run was very different from previous runs. I was finding it very difficult to get into my usual zone. Running with a pace group (Eloy in this instance) I found myself having less conversations in my head and more with Eloy. This was challenging for me, because I thrive in my zone. I did find it beneficial though because we were able to push each other in ways not possible running alone. As we came up on the last half mile of the run, I could not help bursting into a double time pace. I unfortunately left Eloy behind me talking with our trainer Brett, but it felt damn good to push my body hard.

Greeting us at the finish line was a water/Gatorade station set up by one our great mentors Susan. To the left Susan caught a snapshot of me as I closed in to devour some much needed fuel for my body. Gatorade and pretzels were like a gourmet spread to me.

When I got back home I could feel some new pains setting into ankles. I iced them for a good twenty minutes, and the knees for another twenty. This running is beginning to take its physical toll on my body. I will preserver though, that much I’m sure of. I have a strong will power, and will overcome all obstacles.

Try and keep up with me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Practice Away From Practice

Well I knew it had to happen sooner or later. This past weekend Jamie and I took off for the weekend to visit my family in Pleasanton (Bay Area), so our normal Saturday morning practice turned into a solo run for us. It was a bit tough to hang out with my three brothers and not have some beers with them the night before. One beer led to two and I ended up staying up till about 2ish. Needless to say the 6:00 AM wake-up call came and went. I cracked my eyes at around nine and stumbled out of bed - this was a four mile day, a new bump up in our mileage, and I was not about to let this own get by me. My brother Kevin the night before made the comment in his drunken state that he wanted to run with me, so I roused him out of slumber. He woke with a bit of contention, but eventually met me downstairs for some hydration and stretching. We headed out to a local spot where I had mapped a 4 mile run. He brought his blades and I my running shoes; we strapped up and blasted off.

As we started out Kevin made the stark discovering that the course I had mapped out deceptively turned to gravel. This made for an amusing display of rollerblade acrobatics on his part - a damn funny site. We rerouted and I just judged my distance by my time. The run turned out to be pretty easy; 4 miles did not seem that much longer then 3 miles for me. It was good hangin with my bro and running in our home town. We were able to extrude a few good stories from some of the familiar sites we passed through… aaaaahh reminiscing, isn’t it great (that’s a nice slice of cheese for you, now how about some wine?). I finished out my last half mile with a fierce pace, doubling that of my normal pace. We headed back to the house where I found Jamie wrecking a 30 minute ride on the stationary bike. Give her blog a glance to see why she’s biking instead of running.

So the whole reason for this weekend visit was to head out to an A’s game with my dad, brothers and nephews – a guy’s day you might say. My dad always took us to A’s games growing up, so we still like to keep it going. These games are always a blast; drinking beer, eating peanuts and hot dogs, and yelling obscenities at the umpire for bad calls. It was a damn good time hangin out with my dad like this. That's him above with my youngest bro David and his to boys Owen and Joshua. It is so unbelievable that my dad is battling cancer; he is so fiery and full of energy. His positive momentum seems to be collecting energy by the day.

Speaking of my dad’s battle, he just finished his third round of chemo and can now say the majority of it is behind him now. HELL YEAH!! Three more to go... keep rockin it dad!!

All for now. Try and keep up!!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Time Trials

Our second team practice turned out to be a great day weather wise... no soggy rain slowing us down this time. Today we actually got to go through our stretching routine. We learned a total of 18 stretches that covered both our upper body and lower body. After that I felt ready to take on our run.

This day was different though. Today we ran our one mile time trials to get an idea of our speed. We started off with a mile run to the starting line to get us warmed up. Once there Brett prepped us, lined us up at the starting line and let us loose. I have to say that I think I took off a little too hot out of the gates. My pace slowed about a third of the way through the mile. I wasn't worried though, I was still maintaining a good pace, and only two other people were ahead of me. I hit the turn around point, gave Cole (our assistant coach) the thumbs up and headed back. I didn't really pay attention much to the other runners as I passed them (running in the opposite direction) cause I was in the zone, but Jamie was able to break that zone for me as I saw her go blazing past me - she looked so good and I couldn't help but smile at her.

I felt my legs fatiguing under me as I hit the 3/4 mark, this was the moment of mind over matter I thought. My burst out of the gates had cost me too much energy in the beginning, and I was now paying the price - a valuable lesson I guess. I decided to kick up my pace and told myself that this was possible and dammit if I'm gonna let anyone finish close behind me - this, I thought, was a lesson in mental endurance training. I relied on my self talk and pattern breathing that I use when I run my one mile hill runs.

As I approached the finish line I could see Brett standing there looking intently at his stop watch. We was yelling out and cheering me on as I made my final sprint over the finish line. As I hit a fast walk he yelled out my time to me... "7 MINUTES 13 SECONDS!" ..wew, I thought, that sounded like a pretty good time for my first timed run. Jamie was not too far behind - but you'll have to check in to her blog to hear what she has to say about her run and time.

Our team is awesome. Everyone clapped and cheered and flung out high fives as other team members crossed the finish line. We are all going to rock it in SF this October!

We hit a nice easy run back and finished up with our stretching routine. Jamie and I headed back to our pad to sink into the couch and ice up our joints. WHAT A DAY!

Try and keep up with me!