goofy goobers

goofy goobers

Saturday, May 23, 2015

5,698' of gain and 24 miles


Dennis and Martin kicked off the Memorial Day weekend by running 24 miles with 5,698' of gain.  I saw them towards the end of their run at the beginning of my bike ride.  The pair were on their way to 7-11 where they actually got Gatorade, not Slurpees.  Nice effort boys.  Here are a few pictures from Dennis (official club photographer) of the ridiculously beautiful place we call home.

Amazing blue.



Martin.

Dennis

Sunday, May 17, 2015

ESPN Breaking News - Name Change for SEHRC

As you've probably already seen on ESPN, SERHC has changed it's name from San Elijo Hills Running Club to San Elijo Hills Running & Cycling.  Thanks to Erik the Bykviking for coming up with the simple, yet brilliant name change.  If we add another sport, things might get complicated, but we will cross that bridge with my next injury.

When I first started the club, I debated what sports it should include.  I decided to keep it just for running.  Three years later, a torn meniscus and running burn-out I find myself back on a bike.  If the running club was started for my son, the cycling club is definitely for my daughter.

From the time she first got on a bike, this girl has had no fear.  For those not in the know, the difference between a good cyclist and a great cyclist is the ability to ride without fear.  Whether bombing down a mountain side or riding with a pack of forty, a cyclist needs to put aside the fact they are on the edge of disaster.

Kat on a bike.
At the same time, I've noticed a uptick in the number of runners getting on a bike.  So why not?  Out here in San Elijo, we have an awesome network of trails, which are just  as good for the runner as well as the rider.  Looking forward to rebuilding my quads and my cycling wardrobe.  Keep it dirty.


A rabbit and a horse.

Mountain biker in retro road kit

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Marathons, menisci and MRIs

My Boston Marathon experience left me be beat and dejected.  Weather aside, how could I fall apart so completely after the best training cycle of my life?

After a few days of moping, I got the itch to go running again.  I was patient and waited ten days.  On the tenth day, I dropped a car off for service and planned to run the six miles back to my house.  The first 1.7 miles were okay, other than I felt a little slow, but hey, this was a warm-up.

At mile 1.71, I felt pain in the outside of my left knee.  Ever the optimist, I walked for a bit and then ran for about twenty seconds.  As each one of those twenty seconds passed, the pain increased until it was intolerable.  As I was still four miles from my house, I did this about twenty times, hoping the pain would work itself out.  It didn't.  I then gave up and walked the remaining four miles home.  This was not a fun experience.  Towards the end, I even felt pain while I was walking.

I called my primary care physician the next day.  I told his staff I was pretty sure I tore my left meniscus and needed a MRI.  My doctor is good about these things.  He didn't make me come in so I could tell him in person I think I tore my meniscus.  He's known me for a long time and even reads this blog on occasion.  He also knows I previously tore my left ACL and my left and right menisci. He put in for approval with my insurance carrier that day.  It takes 10-12 working days for the carrier to approve, which translates into three weeks.  I still haven't heard.  

In the meantime, hoping against hope, I waited a couple days and ran again.  The pain came on around mile one.  I waited another five days.  This time I made it for twelve minutes before the pain said, "hello".

Professional athletes have a better time of it.  Feel a tinge in your knee?  Within a day the MRI has been done, and if its a torn meniscus, the surgery is done a day later, if no swelling.

Contrast that to the general public.  Meet with primary care physician (I skipped this step), get insurance approval for MRI, make MRI appointment, have MRI done, meet with orthopedist, get approval for surgery, make appointment for surgery and have the surgery.  I'm guessing this will take a minimum of two months.

This might not seem like much, but when you're in the best shape of the last ten years of your life, it seems like an eternity.  I want to run.  I want to put a new race on the calendar and start a new training cycle, knowing I'm a smarter and stronger runner than I was six months ago.  But the knee says, "nope".

I'm also placed in the odd position of wanting my meniscus to be torn.  This would explain why I fell apart at Boston.  At the same time it adds a nice asterisk to my performance, "I ran a 3:11, but I ran the last ten miles with a torn meniscus".  

In the meantime, I've discovered I can ride a bike without pain, so I'm back on the bike.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BOSTON MARATHON 2015: A runner’s perspective

Boston.

People keep telling me congratulations.  They are impressed that I finished the marathon.  For me, I’m disappointed.  I wanted to run under three hours.  Instead, I ran a 3:11.  For Boston, I had trained harder than ever in my life.  I felt at the very least I would break my PR of 3:06.
It would be easy to chalk it up to the weather, 42 degrees, 20 mph headwinds and rain.  Perhaps it was the rain, maybe it wasn’t.  Maybe I just had a bad day.  It’s hard to say.
.  .  .
I flew out Friday night.  My brother Tom picked me up at Logan and took me to his home in Andover, north of Boston.  For the next two days, I was fed and pampered.  I had hoped my early arrival would allow me to adjust to the time change.  It didn’t.  The two hour afternoon nap on Saturday probably didn’t help. 
On Saturday, before the nap, I picked up a pair of arm warmers for $4.97 at a local running store.  I thought the running gods must be smiling down on me.  I then ran easy for 20 minutes and did six strides.  My brother then drove me down to Boston and I picked up my bib and the ridiculously overpriced $110 purple Boston Marathon jacket.  Thanks B.A.A. for the price gouge. I returned to his home for a lasagna dinner, courtesy of my sister-in-law Julia.  
On Sunday morning, my brother joined me for a 30 minute easy run.  Then eggs, pancakes, potatoes, bacon, sausage and strawberries.  We then went back to Boston and had an early dinner at Bertuccis with a bunch of runners from San Diego.  After dinner, I went to my room at the Nine Zero, a hotel in downtown Boston, with a $50 rate courtesy of my brother, the general manager.  At this point, things were going too well.  Everything was perfect.  At some point, something had to go not perfect.     
Monday morning I got up.  The forecast was vacillating from rain and no rain.  I knew in my heart it would be rain.  I knew the day would be hard.  I hopped in a cab and met Jim McNevin and some others from San Diego at the Buckminster Hotel.  McNevin had arranged a limo-bus to take us to the start.  We all piled in and the spirits were high.  No rain yet.  We got dropped off in a parking lot.  We then had to board a bus that took us a few miles into Hopkinton.  On that bus, rain began to hit the windshield.
Once in Hopkinton, McNevin took all fifteen of us to a friend’s house, a ¼ mile from the start.  For the next hour or so, we hung out, ate, used the bathroom and stretched a bit.  Besides us, there was another 15 or so runners ready to brave the conditions.
I walked to the start with a woman named Jill and McNevin.  McNevin then went one way, Jill and I another.  Jill handed me a pack of espresso energy gel and went to corral eight.  I was then alone and made my way to corral seven.  
It was 9:45 a.m.  The race started at 10:00 a.m., with the elite men heading out first.  The runners around me started to take off their outer layers.  Many of them wearing goodwill specials.  I was wearing a Lick-Wilmerding track suit I got back in 1998 when I coached the boys and girls sprint teams.  (We took first that year, by the way.)  The track suit had sat untouched in my closet for the past 15 years.  I figured it was time for it to go.    
The national anthem was then sung.  At 9:55, I took off the track suit and placed it in a plastic donation bag.  No good byes to my old friend.  The gun then sounded and the runners in corrals one through eight slowly marched forward to the start line to dual with their destinies.  As we crossed the start line, our timing chips activated.
The race then began.  Spread out before me was a sea of people.  I was bib number 6104, so there was about 6,000 people in front of me.  This may not seem like a lot, but the road, for as far as I could see, was filled with people.  There was no room to pass or maneuver without much effort.
This was quite different than Carlsbad 2014.  I started that marathon in front and within a mile was almost alone.  Boston was a different animal.  Packed in, the race never really opened up, until we turned onto Boylston, which is the home stretch.  
I ran according to plan.  7:247:067:10 for the first three miles.  I was running into the race, as there was no warm-up.  Mile four: 6:44.  Things were good, but in the back of my mind, something was wrong.  Although I was trying to run slow, I felt I was running too slow.  Then it began to rain and the wind began to blow.  I was wearing a singlet, arm warmers, gloves, running shorts, ankle socks, a beanie and Hoka Cliftons.  It was not enough.  I regretted not wearing my running tights or taking Advil before the race.  In retrospect, I’m not sure it would have made any difference.
I continued to run.  My clothes slowly became soaked.  The first 13 miles I was on pace.  90 minutes.  I thought, sub-three is possible, but I knew it wasn’t.  I had tossed my gloves around mile 10.  That was a mistake as I could now no longer feel my hands.  Wet gloves would have been better than no gloves.  My quads were also numb.  I had no feeling in them.  The rain and wind had done their job.  I just could not accelerate like I wanted.  I was not tired, hungry or red-lining.  I just did not have it.  This was a miserable feeling.  Imagine taking a cold shower in your running clothes and then going running.  That was Boston 2015.
The crowds cheered, but I didn’t give a shit.  I wished they weren’t there.  I wished I was alone, so I could deal with my devastation in solitude.  Why were they cheering me? I was failing.  For the non-marathoner it seems impressive to run a marathon.  For the marathoner, it’s not about running the marathon, it’s about hitting a goal.  This was my first taste of defeat.
Carlsbad 2013, goal: finish.  I finished.  Carlsbad 2014, goal: qualify for Boston.  I qualified.   Boston 2015, goal: sub-three.  I failed.  I failed by 11 minutes.  Fuck the wind.  Fuck the rain.  I failed.  The watch does not lie. 
The last thirteen miles were an exercise in frustration.  I tried to run faster.  I could for a bit and then the legs slowed.  Around mile 17, my left knee began to ache.  This was a bit concerning, as I ripped my ACL a few years ago.  Not only was the knee aching, it felt like it was grinding.  Good times.  Worried that I was doing permanent damage to my knee is not a fun way to run a race.  But what choice did I have?  I had to keep going.
The last five miles I wanted to quit. Meanwhile, my pace kept increasing.  Sub-three was out the window.  I still had a hope of a PR, but that soon enough fell by the wayside like a crumpled green Gatorade cup.
I kept running and ran down the finishing straight.  I didn’t even enjoy that.  I was wet, cold and feeling sorry for myself.  I managed to raise my arms at the finish and walked into the receiving line.  It had been raining, now it began to pour.  First up was water and Gatorade.  I didn’t need any, I needed a blanket.  I was completely wet and shaking.  To get the blanket, I had to hobble another 300 meters, past the energy bars, protein drinks, food bags and the medal handout.  Word of advice race organizers, hand out the blankets first next time.
Once the blanket was on, I walked with similarly silver clad runners to get out of the race finish area.  While walking, I heard race officials on the public address urging us to continue walking forward.  Really?  Like we wanted to hang out in the street in driving rain, half-naked and shivering?  I felt like a character in some futuristic sci-fi movie that was being driven like a cow by aliens that had overcome the planet.
I finally exited the corral and saw my brother.  He had my clothes.  He dressed me, as my hands no longer worked.  We walked about two blocks towards a restaurant where some other runners from San Diego were going to meet.  As I limped, my knee grinding, all I could say over and over again, was, “that sucked.”  I was laughing like a madman.  I saw a pedi-cab.  I got in it.  Even though the restaurant was now only a block and a half away, I felt like I couldn’t make it.  
We got to the restaurant and took a table. I headed into the bathroom.  I changed out of my running shorts and into some jeans.  I felt like I had just spent the day skiing.  Back at the table, I had some clam chowder and drank some beer.  For the next hour, my body shook.  I’m not sure if I had hypothermia, but if I didn’t, I must have been damn close.  
In the restaurant, I saw three of my running buddies from San Diego.  The consensus on the marathon: “that sucked.”  For me, hands down, the marathon was the worst running experience of my life.  Running those last five miles, wet and miserable and knowing the goal I had trained for was unattainable was devastating.  I had never worked so hard for anything in my life, to fail was an indictment of myself.  
.  .  .
A day, two IPAs and two Advil later, my mindset has changed.  Boston, you may have crushed me for the day, a day and half tops, but with the help of some Lagunitas IPA and a federally approved over the counter pain reliever, I’m done crying.  I did finish 4380 out of 30,000 participants.  I had improved my starting position by about 1,724 runners.  I had run the marathon in a wind adjusted temperature of 34 degrees.  
I’m thinking about running another marathon.  If I do, I will run under 3:00.  Whether I do that at an officially sanctioned marathon or my own North County Coast Bandit Marathon, I will do it.
First step, run more.  50 miles a week just isn’t enough.  But it takes time to ramp up the mileage.  The body can only absorb so much at a time.  I’m still a baby runner, but I know I’m stronger than I was four months ago.  Time to keep it going.  To that end, I might be pacing Greg Fall in the PCT 50 for about 20 miles on May 9th.  Perhaps a bit early to get back on the horse, but in my semi-drunken state it seems like the right course of action.
For an Irishmen, every great idea begins with a pint . . .

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Boston, finding myself there

This one is for Leo. Fall told me to run for myself tomorrow. Good advice. But in running for myself, a part of me will be running for Leo.  

Its been a long journey from my bike messenger days. Wasted trips, detours and delays, but tomorrow the path is clear. 

I have battled my demons and hold them at bay. Leo was not so lucky. The demons won. 

Fortunately I made a movie and Leo became the star of it. His off the cuff comments about messengering became seared into my brain after hours of editing. My favorite:

"Being unaffected by headwinds . . . When you're better, faster, something -than topography, geography and physics, you're there man."

I hope to find myself 'there' tomorrow. 

Thanks for being a star Leo. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Taper

Monday.  Run 90 minutes easy.  I ran 72 minutes.

Tuesday.  Run 60 minutes easy.  I ran 31 minutes.

Last 30 seconds of Tuesday, it came back.  The legs wanted to run, run fast. 

Now I'm packing.  The energy level is rising.  Can't way to run Boston.

I ran so much, I got sick of running.  I hit the taper with the desire at its lowest, which means I hit it perfect.  Now have to pull back on those reins, but tomorrow I get to run 4 x 1200.  Going to open the throttle and have some fun.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Where the Streets Have No Name

I got out of the car on Wednesday and brushed my hand against the inside of my right knee.  I felt pain.  I thought, this is odd.  Upon inspection, it was swollen.  Not sure what caused it.  Perhaps it was running more than I've ever run in my life.

That night I was supposed to do a quality workout.  In the words of the LAPD, in relation to the U2 video for the Where the Streets Have No Name "we're shutting the location down.  There is no vote.   It happens now."

I shut it down.  I put the horse back in the barn.  I've been icing the knee ever since.  Not sure what happened.  Just know it be super silly to run and injure myself such that Boston was a no-go.  Didn't run Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.  Prior to that, I was burned.  The torch had been lit and devoured my soul.  Running was drudgery, a chore.

That's the problem about getting serious.  I walk that fine line between fun and work.  I don't want running to feel like a job.  I want to run for fun.  Finish times are nice. But that's not the point.  It's the process.  It's the sweat running down my skin.  It's pushing my body.  It's trying to be sixteen again.

Three days no run.  Now I'm a caged animal.  I want to explode.  My fitness has never been greater. I run my hands across my legs and feel the veins.  I find muscles I've never had.  43, and in the best shape of my life.

Running tomorrow.  Writing now.  Funny the juxtaposition.  More I run, the less I write.  Less I run, the more I write.