Sunday, April 25, 2010


When you're training for a race - and I am, in case you didn't know - whenever you feel pain, you are always wondering if you're in trouble or if you're just being a baby.
I wondered, at first, if I was just being a baby when I first felt the pain in my left foot. It started hurting after my last 20-mile run a week ago Saturday.
(On a side note, my knee tendonitis began hurting after my first 20-mile run. I guess running 20 miles is tough on your body).
Crap like this is always a part of training for a marathon, so I'm told. It makes sense. After that last 20, I ran 51 miles that week. I'd never really run more than 35, and barely hit that, before I began training for the big one. Aches and pains and even injuries are part of the deal.
But, man. It started really hurting Wednesday, after my intervals session, and then Friday I cut my run short by a mile (the weather made it easy to do that, as it's rained here since that Wednesday and it started raining hard enough as I was running Friday morning to get the Ark unhitched). 
Then Saturday on mile 10, it was kind of screaming at me.
I decided at that point I was no longer being a baby and that this was serious.
I can put up with a lot of pain. In fact my pain threshold is probably too high. There's probably injuries I could have avoided if I had just taken a few days off. But I worry, too, because I know a marathon is 26 miles, and a lot can happen over that distance. Something small can turn into an elephant by the time you cross the finish line. Or don't cross it.
I'm on steroids now, and I'm running twice this week and only twice. The good news is I'm tapering now and can basically take the two weeks off without it affecting me much (which still blows me away but I'm trusting the knowledge of my friends who have done many of these). 
The bad news is just two weeks before the race, I'm dealing with an injury.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I can see the end of the miles and miles

It's over.
Not really over. Not over over. And it's definitely not over over over.
But the minute I was done with my last 20-miler Saturday, I breathed in deep, with a calm, relaxing sense of relief. Of course I was relieved to be done with 20 miles. But it was more than that.
It's over.
The training is done. 
I'm tapering now.
In case you don't know what tapering is - and since many of you are gambling, boozing poker bloggers you may not - it is, to put it simply, much easier than the training I've done for the past four months.
I've still got plenty of runs to complete, but I'm only running for a half-hour tomorrow. I'm only running four miles on Friday (last Friday I ran 10). I'm only running 12 on Saturday (I know that sounds like a lot, but it's not 20), and it only gets better from there. I only run 8 that next Saturday, and in the last week before the May 9 marathon, I've got the running schedule of an overweight guy trying to get in shape for his softball team.
This means a lot more than a break, though, let's be honest, I need the break. I've been sick more this winter than I used to get in five years, and two of our kids, of course, have strep throat right now, so I need my immune system to be more Superman and less Clark Kent. 
((If I would have a nemesis villain, his name would be strep throat, an evil guy who scraps my throat sandpaper-raw and makes me want to lay on the couch and watch bad TV and can only be defeated by a trip to urgent care and a prescription for pills that have to be taken with food. I've had it, no shit, at least 50 times in my life and twice this year)).
I've always been active. I climbed mountains, ran half marathons and even played softball!!!111. But the training for this changed me. I went to bed before 10 p.m. most nights. I turned down poker games and left others early (I have missed far too many Mookies and will probably miss more despite the awesome offer of the BBT5; I'm not linking it because everyone else already did). I basically lived like a monk, and when one of my best friends asked me at a poker game Saturday what else was going on in my life "besides running," I had a hard time answering. There's nothing wrong with being healthy and working for a goal, but the training and being a Dad have left my life a little unbalanced. I'm ready to cut loose a bit. Maybe I'll stay up past 11 p.m. when this is over.
No, the last run means a lot because it means I made it through relatively unscathed. Sure, my knee hurts a bit, but it's already better, and it should be fine by race day. Yeah, I've been sick, but I didn't miss too many runs at all. I'm a bit tired too.
But that's what the tapering is for. It's to build you back up and get you strong again after you've torn yourself down. It's to help you get out there on race day and kick ass.
I'm ready.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Danger lurks in every footfall

Potential disaster is right under my feet.
Last week I:
• stepped into the shower and caught myself right before I skidded on a swath of soap.
• halted a full-on step on the stairs after my foot felt a poke from a toy from Burger King, preventing a tumble.
• caught my son inches from my groin after he leaped off the couch to "get me." He almost got me, all right.
I was mere moments from suffering some kind of injury that could have royally screwed my chances of running the marathon as I head into my last huge week of training.
The last huge week is a celebration. After I run 20 Saturday, I go into tapering. That means the hard training is over, and it's smooth sailing from there on out.
The marathon itself isn't really the hard part. It's surviving the training that prepares you for it. I've already said this, but the training basically ensures you'll be sick several times and that you've got a good chance of getting hurt.
I know five others preparing for a marathon with me this winter. Three of them got injured. Two of them to the point where they probably won't be able to do the race.
I've had my own issues with an old ACL injury I suffered in a mountain climbing accident 10 years ago. The heavy training has inflamed it. But ice and ibuprofen seems to be controlling it. Tapering will help with the rest.
Surviving all this, of course, makes you paranoid that something, surely, will fuck it up. As I am feeling great again - really great, after a month of illnesses and the sore knee - and the training winds down, that's where I am.
My house, of course, is a pitfall thanks to the kids. Yep. Pitfall. I won't be surprised if one morning I have to leap across the living room via the ceiling fan to get to the kitchen (and see crocs underneath and hear some encouraging music and get a shiny gold bar when I do make it).
I'll be celebrating Saturday.
If I don't trip over something plastic on the way in the door.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring has, never mind

Today I slipped on shorts, a short-sleeved tech shirt and a long-sleeved tech-shirt for the first time in God knows how long ago.
When I began training for the marathon, I wore three layers, tights, a hat, gloves, a face warmer and a jacket to ward off -10 degrees.
It takes a tad less time to get ready for a run when all you have to do is wear shorts and a couple layers on top. A ball cap, some sunglasses, my iPod and I'm good.
The sun warmed my back. I stripped off the long-sleeved tech shirt even before I started.
My hands didn't go numb from frostnip halfway through the run.
My feet actually sweated a tiny bit.
I got a little color on my legs. That color was red, but that's OK.
I saw a hawk circling overhead at the park.
The trees had little green buds on them.
The grass wasn't all crispy and brown or covered in snow.
My body was kinda limber, not like I'd been buried in mummy bandages for a century.
Hey, Spring, where ya been, man?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I would like to rock, please.

On my way home from work, I was listening to Pretty Maids, and "We Came To Rock" came on.
Man, it'd been a while since I heard a song about rockin'.
Remember when they used to play those all the time?
Pretty Maids, in fact, was from that era. The group was one of those metal bands of the 1980s I tended to specialize in, a fairly unknown band that I discovered on Headbanger's Ball that was the last video of the night, something to fill time between the phone sex commercials.
(Getting to watch"Headbanger's Ball" was a special treat. My parents did not get cable until I was well into high school, which they probably did to prevent me from watching too much TV, but actually the result was I watched too many reruns of "WKRP in Cincinatti" and played more Atari 2600. I think I caught Pretty Maids at my grandmother's.)
The band actually had a major label deal, signed to the same company as Europe, and the first record was good enough for me to keep it when I did a clearinghouse of much of the crap I had accumulated through the 80s. "Future World," the band's only (minor) hit, is still a great song.
Wow, that was quite a tangent.
Anyway, bands exactly like Pretty Maids were not polished songwriters, and as a result, most every album that came out during that era had a song about rockin'. Because, really, when you're a metal band from the 80s, even if you weren't hair metal necessarily, you pretty much wrote about chicks, maybe a few drugs, expensive cars or the lifestyle and, when those reservoirs were tapped, you wrote about rockin'.
Even some of the best bands from that era well, you know, rocked. Twisted Sister wanted to rock. Def Leppard wrote about a rock of ages and wanted to get rocked. AC/DC said rock and roll was not noise pollution, saluted those who were about to rock and just last year sang about a rock and roll train (but that band gets a pass because AC/DC's sound never really has changed much, even with two different lead singers, and that's actually one of its charms).
Rockin' was not limited to hard rock or metal. Huey Lewis and the News was not that great of a band (no it wasn't), but Lewis did sing about the heart of rock and roll.
And if you think this was just an unfortunate 80s thing, like big bangs and T-shirts with overcoats and hunks named Corey, well, you're wrong. Led Zep, the seminal band of the 70s, said it was a long time before they rock and rolled.
So what the hell happened? Well, I've got a friend who likes to blame Nirvana for the decline of music. I don't agree. I liked Nirvana. But he's right about one thing. Music was no longer about rockin'.
Nirvana wrote about feeling stupid and rape and coming as you are (and even that wasn't as fun as it sounded). Soundgarden seems like a band that could write about rockin', and maybe it did, though I only remember tunes about black hole suns and black days and rusty cages. Stone Temple Pilots probably should have written about rockin' but wrote some good songs and a bunch of crappy songs, and both groups honestly made no sense at all.
Even today, rock and roll doesn't seem to be about rockin' any longer. Part of me honestly likes this. I'd rather a band try to address something intelligent. That's one of the reasons Iron Maiden will always be one of my favorite bands. You'd hear about historic battles with the Russians and the pilots of World War II and a strange song about Alexander The Great and topics like being afraid to shoot strangers.
I'm hardly a party animal. I'm pretty serious a good portion of the time. I never really watch popcorn flicks. I don't read trashy novels. I've even given up video games (which makes me sad, I have to admit).
But I do miss it. I miss the fun. I miss being able to rock out.
I'm gonna listen to AC/DC tonight.