It rained before, during, and after the B & A Trail Half Marathon on March 30. The previous year rain threatened; this year it delivered. Never a real hard downpour, but it rained start-to-finish. Luckily the temperatures weren’t terribly cold so I was able to ditch my trash bag rain vest on the second half of the race. And in spite of the rain, it was a fun run. That’s due, of course, to my traveling companions from Fast Tracks Running Club!
We always have fun at B & A and, as has become our tradition, we got the party started with car bombs at Castlebay Irish Pub in downtown Annapolis. Normally we stop in for a car bomb then walk around Annapolis, but it was raining on and off so we lingered. Naturally, I had a second car bomb. Because.
We also indulged in some silly selfies. There had recently been some news about a female at the New York City Half Marathon taking selfies with guys in the background so we had some fun with that. Ultimately, I invented the butt selfie. If you can butt dial with your smart phone, it follows that you should be able to butt selfie.
The Annapolis Striders who put on the race usually have a very nice runner gift that goes with registration. One of my favorites in the past is a pair of track pants with zipper pockets. This year they gave cool-weather tops with their new event logo. These were mock turtle neck heavy tops with a quarter -length zipper. The women’s version was fitted and had zipper pockets and thumb holes in the sleeves. The men’s version was a little heavier but had no pockets.
The course this year returned to the Severna Park High School for the start/finish and packet pickup/expo. That meant “the hill” was back in the half marathon, but the full marathon runners did not have to deal with it at mile 18/19 like last year. One difference was the elimination of a bag check. I’m assuming this was a concern from the school and the Striders may not have been able to hire security to check the contents of all the bags. Instead you had to leave any bags in your car which, because of the weather, did not work so well. I never bothered to change into a dry shirt because I would have had to walk out to the car in the rain to get my bag. Fortunately, I had arranged for a late checkout and could return to my hotel to shower and change.
I ran slow as expected, and I piled on about 10 minutes for two unscheduled pit stops along the way. Still, I managed to not be the last half marathoner to finish, and — most importantly — my foot felt OK even though I had only put in four weeks of training after my 7-week hiatus. Chip time was 2:50:09 with a 13:00 pace. But it wasn’t my worst half marathon time. That distinction will probably remain with the half during the Dopey Challenge in DisneyWorld for a long time to come.
It’s hard to say whether I will return next year. This year B & A was as late as it has ever been and it was on the same date as the inaugural Philadelphia LOVE Run Half Marathon. If they coincide next year, I might be tempted to stay home for the local half marathon instead.
What a week! It started with a visit to my podiatrist for the results of my MRI that I wrote about earlier, but my Monday 5-mile training run was a bit of a struggle. My legs felt heavy — probably the combination of so many hours on the road traveling to and from the Marine Corps 17.75K and the number of hills on that course the weekend prior. Still, I managed to crank out my normal 12:00 pace. Since I resumed running on May 1, my pace has pretty consistently remained around 12:00 per mile. Some runs have been closer to a 13-minute pace, and nothing has been faster than about 11:30.
Until this week.
I took Tuesday off since it was miserable weather (heavy wind-driven rain) and I was still feeling tired. Wednesday, though, I ran the Valley Forge Park outer loop along with a few extra miles on the Betzwood side of the river. Although my pace still averaged just under 12:00 minutes per mile, something was very different. I really enjoyed the entire run and actually felt refreshed at the end — able to run many more miles. I didn’t have my speed, but I felt like I had my mo-jo back for the first time since getting injured last October.
On Thursday, I did an easy routine 5-mile run in the neighborhood at a slightly slower pace — 12:23. A pretty routine run.
Then, yesterday, I did my long run. I had 16 miles on my training plan, but I felt like I might do as many as 18 miles. One of those was a warm up 1-mile run on the treadmill before I left home — very routine for me. I have been using 3-minute run/20-second walk intervals which have been very helpful in keeping my heart rate down, allowing me to catch my breath as I regain my aerobic fitness, and helping prevent further injuries. I have found I can easily maintain my normal pace with this interval approach.
I arrived early at the Betzwood Picnic Area and did about 2.5 miles on my own before meeting the rest of the Fast Tracks Running Club at 7:00 AM. We started out the River Trail and I ran with Terry until we met Lynn who joined us, both of them taking the walk breaks according to my schedule. I intended to take it easy at the start so I could, hopefully, get all 18 miles in, so I was surprised that we my average overall pace at the end of the River Trail was faster than 11:30. Terry turned back at that point, but Lynn stayed with me for the rest of our run.
I have found that I run faster when running with someone else or in a small group. The conversations and company makes the time pass more quickly and you don’t focus as much on your running — it just happens. Thank you, Lynn, for staying with me. I know I wouldn’t have run as well on my own. Yesterday was also a magnificent weather day. According to my Garmin data, it was 37 F when I started running at 6:15 AM but it gradually warmed to the high 50s by the time we finished — perfect temps for running!
I was also just coming to the end of the prednisone dose-pack that my podiatrist prescribed to help knock out the remaining edema in my heel and ankle. And this was my 7th week of building my running base after 7 weeks off for recovery. I had finally run a 40-mile week again even though I’ve cut back to 4 days per week. Maybe my fitness is starting to come back.
For whatever reason, I was shocked to find my average pace dropping on the second half of the run. We were still doing the run/walk intervals (and the walks were more and more welcome), but our average pace was actually picking up. As we headed for the last couple of miles it was clear that my overall pace was going to drop below 11:00 minutes per mile. I even felt strong enough to drop a couple of walk breaks in the last mile to get a 9:56 pace with my overall pace for the 17 miles at 10:56.
Looking back at my splits, they were generally negative. I getting faster over that 17-mile run. Was this a fluke? Or am I actually starting to get some speed back. I looked over my training and found it was back in August and September that I last logged longer runs with an average pace below 11:00 min.
Then, this afternoon, although a scheduled rest day, I felt the urge to go out and run a few miles (another very good sign). So I laced up my latest pair of Hokas for an easy 3-mile recovery run. I ended up with another sub-11:00 pace without really intending to although I did run it out at the end when I realized how close I was.
Spring has sprung, and I have a new spring in my step. This is fun!
Monday I saw my podiatrist and received the diagnostic results of the MRI of my left foot:
- Acute on chronic plantar fasciitis with interstitial tearing and edema in the plantar calcaneal spur.
- Moderate tendinosis of the Achilles tendon in the watershed zone with grade 1 strain of the distal soles musculature at the myotendinous junction.
The detailed report is even more dense with medical terms, but the diagnosis is not terribly serious and my podiatrist gave me the go-ahead to continue running as long as I am not in any on-going pain (always go to a doctor who runs). Fortunately I’m not currently in pain. I do get some aching at times — especially after a long or hard run, but icing helps when that happens. I certainly don’t have the same pain I had this past fall!
Treatment involves continued Graston and Active Release Therapies with my chiropractor, a six-day dose-pack of prednisone to alleviate existing edema at the molecular level, and a new set of custom orthotics which will involved a fitting and sending a pair of shoes to have them set up properly. I currently have custom orthotics, but these will be a much higher grade and more finely tuned. And, of course, more expensive — but these orthotics should only need to be refurbished periodically rather than replaced every nine months like I’ve been doing.
My podiatrist also wants me to stick to running in Hokas which is fine by me, but I have a brand new pair of Asics Nimbus 15s that I have never worn. Anyone interested (size 11) before I turn to eBay or Craig’s List?
Finally, I plan to continue using run/walk intervals for all runs over 6 miles long. My current ratio of 3 minutes running followed by a 20 second walk break seems to work fine without cooling me down too much or losing my momentum. It is definitely keeping my heart rate down, too. My speed is not back yet, but it’s more important that I heal. As long as I can finish a race before the time limit, I’ll be happy.
Next up is the Key Bank Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT, on May 25. The time limit for that marathon is 6 hours which should not be a problem, and the critical spot is getting past mile 8.5 on pace which should definitely be an easy goal for me even with my run/walk intervals. After that I should be able to dial back my training for a bit which will also help. Then I just have the Media 5-Miler in June before my trip to Disneyland the end of August for the Dumbo Double Dare (10K on 8/30, then half marathon on 8/31) followed by the Ventura Marathon the following weekend. Seven weeks later is the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26. After last year (through January, 2014) this will be a really easy year for me!
After yesterday, I can say I’m ready for the B & A Trail Half Marathon. I wasn’t certain that would be the case at the beginning of the month after taking a break from running for nearly 7 weeks to heal my plantar faciitis (along with a little side trip to the ER for a broken elbow). I started running again on March 1 with a 3-mile run on the treadmill, then ran a total of 18 miles the next week including a 7-mile “long” run, and 25 miles the second week with a 9-mile long run. This past week I logged 30.5 miles with a 7-mile mid-week run and a 13-mile long run yesterday. It hasn’t been particularly pretty or fast, but I know I’ll be able to finish the half marathon next Sunday.
My body parts are cooperating for the most part. My elbow is healing nicely and doesn’t interfere with my running at all. My orthopedist “recommended” that I not run while it was healing, so I promised that I wouldn’t fall gain. My plantar faciitis is progressing. I can’t say it is completely better, but it definitely does not hurt to run. I do have some aching after a hard or long run that goes away by the next day at the latest. My chiropractor has suggested that I stick my foot in ice water as soon as possible after every run to keep the inflammation from returning. I did that yesterday, and it really did the trick. After the ice bath I had none of the previous aching, tightness, or soreness that I’ve had in the past. Tomorrow I see a podiatrist for an alternative consultation and to get ideas for prevention (other than stop running, of course).
I haven’t been able to do the cross-training I had hoped to because of my elbow — no yoga or strength training while the bone was healing. I see my orthopedist this coming week and, hopefully, will be given the OK to cross-train. I know I need to work on flexibility, balance, and strength to help avoid future injuries, and I’m looking forward to taking yoga and strength classes at the YMCA. I’ve modified my running schedule to 4 days per week to give me time to do this. Right now some of that time has been taken up with physical therapy for my elbow.
The last few days my right hip flexor has been reminding me that I need more stretching and cross training. It was definitely tight before I ran on Thursday and it wasn’t happy with me before I started my long run yesterday. Once I got home, after sitting in the car and driving for 20 minutes, it really hurt. Fortunately, some rest, Advil, and stretching has mostly eliminated the problem a day later. But I know I need to keep after this so it doesn’t cause more problems down the road.
Speaking of the road, I had the opportunity to run the Chester Valley Trail again — this time from Old Eagle School Road in Valley Forge back toward the section I had run previously from Wegmans and Target in Malvern. Now I just have to run the section from Malvern to Exton to complete the CVT. If you want a flat, straight macadam trail, this is it. Just look south for your view because looking north is Route 202 and/or the sound barriers. Yesterday, though, I saw a doe very close to the trail and she was totally unperturbed by my presence.
I thought I was going to run in nice, mild weather, but it was overcast and breezy and only 35 degrees when we started running. The temps climbed into the 60s but long after we had finished running!
Mon – 5.0 miles – 12:00 pace
Wed – 7.11 miles – 11:56 pace
Thu – 5.09 miles – 12:20 pace
Sat – 13.32 miles (including a 1-mile treadmill warmup) – 12:32 pace
Another mild Saturday and I got to run in one of my favorite places — Valley Forge National Historical Park. Today I ran the inner loop along with a couple of short out-and-backs along the Schuylkill River Trail and the River Trail on the Betzwood side of the park. The trail was completely clear of any snow, but there were lots of walkers and bikers enjoying the park on a mostly sunny day.
I used 3:00-minute/30-second run/walk intervals and still kept my overall pace under 12:00 minutes per mile. It felt very controlled and I wasn’t overly spent when I finished. I feel like I’m building back up at just about the right rate. I’ve been running four days per week doing 18 miles last week and 25 miles this week. But I’ve done intervals on the treadmill each week — 8 by 400s at 10-minute mile pace with 400 recovery last week and 4 by 800s at 10-minute mile with 200 recovery this week. And this past week I got out on the rolling hills of West Chester Pike along with the hills in VFP today.
Best of all, though, my plantar faciitis seems to be receding (knocking on wooden head while typing–please pardon any typos). Initially I was still getting an ache in my heel and under the inner ankle after running and once or twice a day otherwise. Enough that I felt the need to ice my ankle after last week’s long run. But this week even that has diminished. I am trying to remember to stretch immediately after running, and I am doing physical therapy for my plantar along with the therapy for my broken right radius (which is coming along quite well). I’m also continuing to wear the night splint at least 4 or 5 hours each night. I’m not willing to say my foot is back to normal yet, but it is definitely better and it isn’t interfering with my running at all at this point. (Now it is getting impossible to type with the fingers on both hands crossed.) I’ll take a very slow improvement from here — even if I have small periodic set-backs, I’m feeling more confident that the worst is behind me and I can look forward to a good year for running.
Sat 3/1 – 3.00 miles – 12:00 pace
Mon 3/3 – 3.00 miles – 11:56 pace
Tue 3/4 – 3.60 miles – 12:30 pace
Thu 3/6 – 4.25 miles – 11;45 pace (8×400 intervals)
Sat 3/8 – 7.12 miles – 11:19 pace (CVT)
Mon 3/10 – 5.16 miles – 12:08 pace
Tue 3/11 – 6.06 miles – 11:46 pace
Thu 3/13 – 5.00 miles – 11:06 pace (4×800 intervals)
Sat 3/15 – 9.21 miles – 11:50 pace (VFP)
I’ve now achieved the 6500 milestone — logging that many miles in less than 5 years of running in my 60s. So what’s next? What milestone should I shoot for? I should easily hit 7500 miles by the end of this year so that’s very ambitious of a goal. If I continue running as I have, even accounting for occasional injury breaks, I could get to 10,000 miles by the end of 2016 before I turn 68. Maybe I should go for something more audacious and aim for 15,000 miles by the time I’m 75. That’s an average of 850 miles per year over the next 10 years, and I’ve run over 1900 miles in each of the last two years. I should be able to bank enough miles in the next several years to easily make 15,000 by 75 as long as I can keep running. And I intend to do just that if I’m able. So there it is — 15,000 miles by age 75 — a 15-year odyssey!
And along the way, I’ll try to pick off as many states as possible to run a marathon in. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to get all 50. But, for now, that’s just an aspiration — not a firm goal… yet.
So, to celebrate my 6500, I’ve given my minion-me a Maniac make-over:
There may still be snow on the ground, but today’s weather was perfect for a run with highs in the 50s and bright sunshine most of the day. I took the opportunity to try out the Chester Valley Trail (CVT) from Wegmans and Target in Malvern east to Swedesford Road near Valley Forge. This was my first run outside since the Dopey Challenge in January because I was taking time off to heal my plantar faciitis. Last Saturday I started running again, but stayed inside on the treadmill because I fractured the head of my radius in my right arm about two weeks ago. Luckily I only had to be in a sling for a week and with physical therapy my range of motion and strength are beginning to return. But I didn’t want to risk falling again on icy roads or snow-covered trails. On the other hand, I plan to run the B & A Trail Half Marathon the end of the month and I need to start building up distance so I took advantage of the beautiful day and ran about 7 miles on the CVT. The first mile east from Target borders Matthews Road and Route 202 but after that it is a very pleasant trail and it was completely clear of snow — just some melted water running across the trail in places but not deep enough to be bothersome. All in all it was an excellent run, and I’ll definitely be back to run more of the CVT. I’m just hoping the weather keeps getting better so I can avoid the treadmill!