Monday, April 30, 2012

Listening to My Body

It's a tip that everyone gives you.  Listen to your body.  Of course it is easier said than done.  Also, it can often be tough to tell what is a problem and what is actually just some soreness.  With that said, I've really learned to listen to my body and know when it is time to back off.

Thursday's group run was a great workout and I did much better than I expected.  I was sore afterward, but only a little worse than usual.  However, I ended up doing a good number on my legs with a lot of walking over the weekend.  First, I spend about 6 hours running around and photographing a high school track meet on Friday.  Then I spent Saturday in a gym watching 9 hours of high school basketball.  The one good thing about that was that I was sitting all day.  Sunday, I watched a lot of friends run the St. Luke's Half Marathon.  I photographed that too.  I also ended up walking probably the equivalent of a 5k or more to do that.

I was so hungry to run after watching everyone complete the 13.1 miles.  I wanted to get out for an evening run.  My ankles and knees were killing me though, so I wisely rested in the evening.  I wore my compression socks to bed and felt great in the morning.

I decided to head to Jacobsburg for a trail run this afternoon.  After being sore, I definitely wanted to stay on the trails.  I'm trying to run on trails a lot now anyway to reduce the impact.  I was hoping to run about 3 miles and maybe incorporate some of the tougher hills in there.

I started off near the main parking lot and it quickly became apparent it was going to be a short day.  My ankles had recovered, but the joint on the inside of my knee below my kneecap was sore.  I couldn't even use proper form because I could feel it every time I impacted the ground.  It did get better as I ran, but still bothered me throughout the run.  It also improved when I was on dirt trail as opposed to crushed stone.

The short hills were a little tough, but overall not too bad.  I was considering running a loop route, but then I came to a hill that was just too long.  I turned around and made it an out and back.  I thought about quitting at the one mile point due to my soreness.

I made it to a mile and a half.  I wanted to at least get 15 minutes of running in.  It wasn't a great run, but I was able to salvage it and get something useful out of it.  The soreness isn't so bad that I can't run, but I need to back off now before it becomes a problem.  If it was a race, I would've run through it.  Since it's an early workout, I'll back off.

My body already has allowed me to do more than I expected this early on in my comeback.  Now, it is time to listen to it and take a few days off.  I probably won't run again until Thursday at the earliest and even then, I might not run.  On Saturday, some of the Breakfast Club Runners are doing a long night run.  I can't run far, but I love night runs, so I'll be there with them at the start and might crew for them later.

Everyone hates having setbacks and not being able to do what you planned.  The reality is that sometimes they are good for you and you need them to get stronger moving forward.  This was one of those days.

1.5 miles - 16:13 (10:49 pace)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saucon Rail Trail With the BCR

I went out for a group run at the Saucon Rail Trail with the Breakfast Club Runners.  It was only my fourth time out and the goal was to run three miles.  The rest of the group was planning four miles.  Although it was cloudy and looked bad, it was nice and comfortable and great for a run.

I thought the pace might be a little slower because it was an easy run for them.  I knew it would be hard for me no matter what.  It turned out fine though because the faster early pace pushed me.  I stuck with Gayle, David and Chris for about 3/4 of a mile.  The first mile ended up being an 8:44.

I knew I'd never make three miles if I didn't back off though.  So I dropped back, but it still ended up being a much faster pace that I had run on my own up to this point.  I turned around at 1.75 miles.  I figured I'd walked the final half mile if I couldn't run 3.5 miles. 

As I was running back, there was a very steep hill.  I noticed some dirt sliding down it.  I thought it was a squirrel or other small animal.  It actually turned out to be a deer standing right on the side of the hill.  That was pretty cool. 

I started falling apart a bit around 2.5 miles.  Surprisingly, it was actually my legs limiting me, not my lungs.  I started developing sore hamstrings again.  As I approached the 5K mark, I noticed that I was actually going to break 30 minutes.  I actually broke 29 minutes in fact.  I didn't think I could be that fast this soon.

Even though they went further, I figured the other guys would catch back up to me.  That would've allowed me to push a little more too, but they never caught up.  I still finished pretty strong though and it was a great workout.

My progress has been great.  I'm so much further ahead both in distance and pace than I suspected.  I'm going to have to keep pushing myself.  More group runs should be a big help to continue improving.  I am having some exploratory surgery in June, so I need to be in great shape then so I don't lose too much fitness.

I'm not sure when I'll be running again.  Hopefully sometime this weekend.  Tomorrow is a big high school track meet and Saturday I'll be at an AAU tournament.  Tomorrow, I will likely be to sore to run anyway.  No matter when it is, I can't wait to get out there again.

3.5 miles - 32:29 (9:17 pace)

Monday, April 23, 2012

South Mountain (Emmaus)

I decided head over to Emmaus this afternoon.  I stopped in at the Finish Line running store and then stopped at Camp Olympic.  I couldn't find the trail to run there, so I just went to South Mountain.

I figured I wouldn't be able to run straight up the mountain, so I started on the much flatter spur route.  I felt good early on and cruised along.  The weather was very raw.  It rained overnight and was cloudy and drizzling with temperatures in the 40s.  I figured I'd wear a jacket since I wouldn't be running long enough to be hot.  That was a good choice.  I got a little hot at times, but the jacket was a plus.  The cold air bothered my ears a little, but the hood on the jacket helped.

Once I got onto the main trail, it was fun.  There were quite a few wet spots.  It is pretty hard soil so it wasn't too muddy.  It was fun splashing through the puddles.  I ended up running uphill for about .15 miles.  That was good because that was about all I could take.  It was slowing me down.  Hills are still a struggle for me this early on.

Going back was a little easier.  It was mostly downhill.  I did start to struggle in the final quarter mile though.  I'm in better shape than I expected, but two miles still isn't an easy run, especially with some elevation change.

Tomorrow, I might do some sort of speedwork, even though that isn't the best thing to do this early.  Maybe I'll try hill repeats instead of a track workout.  We shall see.  On Thursday, I might do a bit longer run with some of the Breakfast Club Runners.

2 miles - 20:24 (10:13 pace)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back in the Burg

After a great and surprising mile night run on Wednesday, I decided to head out to Jacobsburg for some more.  It was great weather and I really looked forward to running the trail.  I was hoping to run a mile and a half, but managed to stretch it even further to two miles.

I ran a mile out and back.  I started across the road from the parking lot and slightly uphill.  I was feeling good and knew I'd be able to run over a mile.  Since I was feeling so great, I kept going.  My pace was good and I wasn't breathing too hard.

Coming back was certainly tougher.  There were some very difficult hills, but luckily they were all short.  I hit one at a mile and a third and just pushed through.  There was another one at 1.6 miles.  I almost quit at that point, but I knew the rest was downhill.  I definitely didn't have another hill in me.  I cruised through to the finish.

It took me a long time in my comeback last year to hit two miles.  When I first went to Jacobsburg, I could only run 12 minutes straight, now I ran two miles straight through.  As long as I don't have any health complications, I should make much greater progress this time out.  I might even actually be able to run the Quadzilla.  That is a long way off though.  For now, I'll be happy to take it run by run.

I am definitely going to run more trails as I start up this time.  They provide the hills that I need to get stronger and my legs won't take as much of a pounding either.  I'll probably run in Jacobsburg a lot it.  The hills aren't as challenging as a lot of the trails around here, but it is a good way to start.  The hills did make my hamstrings very tight, so I'm glad I didn't run too much. 

I'm very happy and surprised with my progress.  I can't wait to run more.  I might run tomorrow, but more likely I'll take a couple days off.

2 miles - 21:19 (10:40 pace)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Night Run on the Nor-Bath Trail

On Wednesday, I started another comeback attempt with a 10:30 PM mile run on the Nor-Bath trail.  I haven't run since October so I was impressed that I was even able to run a mile straight through.  Last year, when I started comeback number two, it took me quite a few attempts before I could run a mile straight through.

The weather was nice and cool and perfect.  One of the hardest things when starting back up is the air.  The cold air hurt my throat and ears.  That's what prevented me from going further.  I ran at a nice pace.  If I really pushed myself, I think I could've done another half mile.  I don't want to do too much too soon though.

It has been a long few months for me.  I was hoping to run in the Run for the Diamonds on Thanksgiving Day, but my health problems finally deteriorated to the point to where I had to quit running after the Ghouls and Fools trail race.

I eventually had surgery on Dec. 12th.  I didn't realize how major the surgery was.  I always assumed that it wouldn't hamper my training much and that I would only be out a week or two.  Little did I know that I'd spend about three months in bed and wouldn't get back to running until over a month after that.

The pain was hard to deal with post surgery, but probably the worst part was being in the hospital for six days.  I took a lot of pain killers.  Almost as soon as I was allowed to have another dose, I'd request one from the nurse.  I took it almost as much to just relax me as to heal the pain.  I've never been suicidal, but that was as depressed as I ever was.  Time just went by so slowly and being trapped in that room was awful.  Add onto that that the bed was uncomfortable and I got nearly no sleep.

With the type of surgery I had because of my Crohn's Disease, I had to be reintroduced to food slowly.  At first, all my nutrition was all through IV.  Then I got to go on a liquid diet.  I wasn't even allow to eat solid food until I passed gas or had a bowel movement.  I was never so happy to do both.  Finally, I had to keep my solid food down before going home.

I eventually left the hospital on December 18th.  I was thrilled just to get out before my birthday the following day.  It was great to be home and much less depressing, even though the next few months were still very trying.  I had a catheter put in after surgery and was stuck with it for about three months.  It was so uncomfortable that I barely moved off the couch all day.  I developed an infection too.

Being immobile was tough for someone who was a runner.  What made it tougher was I had no clue when the end would come.  The catheter was only supposed to be in 6 days, but it was in much longer because I ran into some issues.  It was a huge relief when it was finally removed.  I still had some minor issues and they aren't fully healed yet.

Even though I'm not 100%, I had walked a few times and felt that I was good enough to start running again.  I walked at Trexler Nature Preserve last weekend.  A mile over the hills whipped my butt.  It was great though.  I was thinking about how that would make an insane mile repeat workout.  I was inspired by some of the Breakfast Club Runners talking about getting together to run at night.  That caused me to get out there tonight.  It felt so good to run again, even for just a few minutes.

I've haven't been one to lack motivation in my two previous comeback attempts, but I think what I've been through the last few months will keep me pushing through tough patches.  I was in a dark place with a lot of pain both physically and mentally for a few months.  When things get tough during training, I can always look back and say to myself this is nothing, that was really HARD.  I was able to use a reminder of pain in a 5K last August.  Now I should definitely be able to use this as well.  That has definitely been the worst time period of my life and I came through it.

I still have so many goals to accomplish in running.  I foolishly signed up for the Quadzilla 15K in July at Trexler.  I'm not sure I'll be anywhere close to enough shape by then, but I'll give it a try.  I just need to get healthier and stay healthy for once.  I should be on Crohn's medication soon, so hopefully that will help.

In the short term, I want start leading the group runs again with the LVRR.  On Thanksgiving, I'd like to run the Run for the Diamonds again.  That was my favorite ever.  Long term, I'm aiming to qualify for the Boston Marathon for 2014 and hopefully run a 50 miler by the end of 2013.  After that, I'll start worrying about improving my time goals and seeing how good of a runner I can become.

It was great to be back running.  I have a huge hill to climb.  It is so frustrating getting back into running.  I can't do anywhere near what I was capable of before.  I just have to take baby steps and be happy with smaller milestones.  I didn't become a good runner overnight in 2009-2010.  It took a year of hard work.  Now, I'm hoping to put in years of hard work.  Luckily, I've become a comeback veteran so I know how to do this now.  I can't wait to keep making progress.

1 mile -10:09 (10:09 pace)