Training: Jan 30-Feb 12

Astute readers will notice that I’ve skipped a week, Jan 23-29. That was just an awful, awful week, runningwise and in all other respects. Let’s move on.

What I like most about the above image is that it’s starting to look like the log of someone who is actually training. I’m not training for anything just yet, but I will be soon. For now, I’m just focusing on getting the mileage consistently in the 50mpw range and getting in at least two (preferably three) quality workouts a week. If I can do this for a few more weeks and stay uninjured, I will be a very happy woman indeed.

Then I will start worrying about training for my only real “goal” race on the near-term horizon, the Long Island Half on May 1. I’ll only have about two months to train, which probably isn’t enough for running my best. But I just want to run a decent half marathon. On the way, I’ll run two NYRR club points races: the Coogan’s 5K in early March and the Scotland 10K five weeks after that. To prepare for those I will be doing a fair amount of fartlek and tempo running over the coming few weeks. I hate 5Ks, but it’s a points race, so what the hell. I’m looking forward to the 10K.

After Coogan’s I’ll start focusing on training for the Long Island Half on May 1. I am hoping that by then I’ll have a good mix of speed and endurance in place. The Scotland Run should be a good “thermometer” race midway through that training cycle. It’s true that eight weeks is probably not enough to produce a great half performance, but I don’t have a lot invested in a May race. I just want to not implode during training, run a good race, and feel like I’m set up for starting marathon training in the summer (and perhaps I’ll run a good Mini 10K in June).

But I must stay uninjured.

To help preserve this state of affairs, I am stretching and rolling fairly regularly these days — maybe 4-5 evenings a week. This is a harder habit to establish than was daily flossing (which I am doing, by the way), probably because flossing takes 30 seconds and rolling/stretching takes 30-60 minutes. I would like to be getting more massages than I am, but money’s tight so I need to do that judiciously. I also started breaking up some recovery runs into doubles to try to further give the graint a rest. I did an eight mile run after Sunday’s race and that was a mistake. Mr. Leg was not happy.

Sandra has a standard pre-race-week schedule — for shorter distances, meaning half marathon on down — and I notice that she crams in two hard workouts back to back. This week I followed that schedule, piling on the work on Wednesday and Thursday: two hard runs plus a big weight session (I added that one — don’t try this at home before a race). The little recovery run on Wednesday evening helped enormously, I think. My legs felt ready for the progression run. Paces are no longer embarrassing: 6:20-6:40 for the fartlek segments and 7:00-7:20 for the fast finish run. My graint was bugging me during the fartleks (so I cut out the two minute segments on the second set), but it was not terrible.

I was tired on Thursday and Friday evenings, and hungry, so I know I worked hard. But I am okay today and plan to do 10 miler in Central Park tomorrow with at least the last two miles at what I suspect is probably my current marathon pace, maybe around 7:40-7:50 on those hills. I was going to do 12, but that’s too far still. Especially after this, what I think of as my first significant (running) training week since the summer.

One word about the metabolic testing that happened last week. There was no metabolic testing, as it turns out. It was actually just a V02 max test. That’s because there was no C02 sensor in the machine. Which explains why, when Jonathan was asking them about “fat vs. carbohydrate usage,” they looked at him somewhat blankly and didn’t give a straight answer. Now I’m really glad I didn’t pay for it.

But all is not lost. The Nutritionist is consulting nutritionist to the Columbia University sports department, where she is also an adjunct, and Columbia is outfitted with metabolic testing equipment (and, presumably, people who know what they’re doing). But it’s on the fritz! What is it with sports testing equipment?! As soon as it’s fixed, I’ll probably go run on a treadmill with a mask attached to my face again, as well as get the resting metabolic test done (which the other place also neglected to do, although they could have with another machine they have).

I’m down a couple of pounds, finally. But it’s too soon to declare victory. When I’m down five pounds I’ll feel more encouraged. The Nutritionist is working with a basketball player who has the same issue with fat loss, except she’s 6’4″ and weighs around 225 pounds. We are the hard cases.

Well, that was alright

Today marked my tentative return to racing, hot on the heels of my tentative return to training. Tomorrow it will be six months to the day that I suffered a catastrophic fracture to my right sacrum on the hills of Central Park in the Club Championships. I have kept the racing shoes I was wearing at the time, with that race’s D-Tag still attached, within view of our bed. Every morning I wake up, see the shoes, and remind myself that I’ll race sometime again.

This morning I finally got to cut the D-Tag off and put a new one on. It was a meaningful moment. I’ll admit that I was a little reluctant to wear the same shoes, lest they jinx me. But I’m not superstitious in the least, and I love racing in them (they are men’s — unisex, whatever — Asics Gel Hyperspeeds that I inherited from Jonathan, for whom they were slightly too small).

I almost didn’t run this race, the NYRR Gridiron 4 Miler. Twice. Yesterday I ran two very easy 3 milers on the treadmill, as Coach Sandra’s pre-race schedule instructs. I couldn’t do the 100m strides (’cause I was on the stupid treadmill). After the AM run, my right leg didn’t feel good. Specifically, it’s an area in my groin that I place somewhere between the innermost adductor and the hamstring insertion point. I will call it my “graint.” My graint hurt during and after that run. I stretched and rolled the hell out of the area for an hour afterwards. Then I did the second run in the evening. Same issue. More stretching, rolling and cursing under my breath. The issue abated for a few hours but reemerged while I was, of all things, lying on the couch watching Spartacus. I went to bed, figuring that if it was still complaining in the morning I’d bag the race rather than risk a repeat performance of August.

This morning arrived, way too early, because I was nervous, at 5AM. All was well with the graint. In fact, everything was going really well. No traffic. Conveniently located snowdrift to park in. Baggage wasn’t too crowded. Then I went for my warmup just north of the start line. The course on East Drive was a mess. Slush and black ice abounded. It was especially treacherous in spots immediately south and north of the 72nd St Transverse. I probably ran under a mile to warm up, primarily as an investigative sortee to scope out where the worst spots were on the road. Was the entire course going to be like this? 15 minutes before start, I nearly headed home. One overextension of my graint and I could be screwed for months to come.

Things looked a little better on Cat Hill where, not coincidentally, there was some sun. I figured I should run at least the first half mile conservatively (and note where other runners ahead might be falling on their asses) and be careful in the shady sections. I lined up toward the back of the blue corral, where it was Sardine City.

I didn’t feel well. I haven’t slept well all week and the cumulative deficit showed in the mirror this morning. My stomach was screwed up before the race, no doubt due to nerves. I have not run at a sustained high effort for more than two miles since the summer. And, atop all this worry, I remain worried about getting reinjured. I have learned that it can happen easily and without warning.

So, yes, “conservative start” were the watch words today. I was glad to be in the back of the corral. Let others fly out and find the ice patches. I didn’t want to feel pushed to run faster than I was comfortable running. My “fast” running has been around 7:10 lately. Not surprisingly, that’s the pace I ran today.

I left the Garmin at home, but I wore my basic Timex so I could at least get my finish time and, if I remembered, the mile splits. I didn’t look at my watch while I was racing, as I’ve learned that this is A Bad Thing To Do. Mile 1 was on the slow side: 7:20. I somehow missed the 2 mile marker, but at 3 those two together were 14:24. I made up time on the last mile, a 6:59. I did not race all out today, although I was close. To be honest, I was worried about my graint exploding with rage should I push the pace below 7:00. But it was fine throughout and I only felt slight complaints at the end. Within a few minutes, those were gone. It’s fine now.

The purpose of this race was threefold:

  1. Simply have the experience of racing again. I have missed this unbelievably so.
  2. See if I can run fast without retriggering my chronic injury.
  3. Get some sense of my current fitness level.

As for 1, I got it. It was fun. I wished I’d raced a little harder, but item 2 took priority. That was also good. I feel confident about going back into hard training again. I will add some fartlek work (on the treadmill, not in the pool, yay) this coming week. Item 3 was about where I expected it to be: I’ve been doing tempo work at around 7:15 on a flat treadmill. It makes sense that I’d get about that pace racing on hills.

I missed out on an AG award by 1 second. That’s okay. One lucite paperweight is enough for me. Official time: 28:42, 55th F overall. Well off my best on that course of 27:34, but that’s no big surprise.

I am so fucking happy to have run a significant distance on the faster side with (seemingly) no ill effects. You have no idea.

The fat mystery widens

I went to The Nutritionist today. It’s been about a month since I last saw her. Since then I’ve been declared healthy by The Endocrinologist and I have had a VO2 max test at a local gym/personal training place in Hartsdale. But apparently the testers did not do a resting metabolic rate test, which they were supposed to. My data readouts also did not include calorie usage at the various heart rates, another requirement. The Nutritionist thinks the data for the latter is probably still in their machine, so she’s going to go try to get it from them. If it looks wacky, I will need to go back for a resting metabolic rate test. And if it’s not available, I’ll have to go for the VO2 max test again.

It’s been around 7 weeks since I first met with The Nutritionist and in this time, following what normal people follow to lose fat, I should have lost about 4 lbs. I have lost nothing. I have tracked every morsel of food and in fact, when asked if I’ve failed to account for the errant cookie, had to point out the cake I had for breakfast one day as well as double or triple vodka shots some evenings. I’ve been honest, even about things I’m not proud of.

It seems that on some days I am cutting too few calories, too many on others. I also am failing to take in enough carbohydrates after hard workouts. And I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. So I’m going to be given a menu of what to eat and when. We’re cutting calorie intake slightly. Then after we chase down the missing data, perhaps make more adjustments.

I would by lying if I said I wasn’t losing both faith and patience.

Here’s what the VO2 max test was like, if you’re curious. I was told that the place preferred to do it on a bike, and now I know why (wait for it). I requested a treadmill test nevertheless. I’m a runner, so I figured the calorie vs. heart rate/pace data would be more useful to me as a runner. Too bad it’s missing!

Okay, here’s what happens: They attach a big mask to your face with straps around your head. You look just like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. The mask is equipped with a flexible membrane that contains a sensor that measures your intake of oxygen vs. your expulsion of carbon dioxide. From that they determine things like aerobic threshold, lactate threshold and VO2 max. I have a tiny head (no derisive comments, please), so the straps were at their tightest. Yet still the mask was loose, which means oxygen was escaping out the top, over the bridge of my nose. This was not a good thing. So one of the trainers had to stand next to the treadmill and hold the mask in place. Awkward.

The test lasted 12 minutes. The heart rate monitor was wonky at first (which is why I rarely use them anymore), plus I was nervous, so my heart rate was a soaring 104. This is double my usual resting rate. It would not come down. So we just went ahead and started the test.

After a very short warmup at 9:30 pace we launched into things, gradually picking up the pace over the next couple of minutes. Soon I was running flat at 7:30 pace. That was a pace I could run very comfortably at, which was a pleasant discovery. I think my marathon pace must be slightly slower than that at this point. After gathering some data at that pace they started to increase the incline. Little by little, the hill got steeper and steeper and my heart rate went up and up. At the 10:45 mark it was starting to feel very hard.

Throughout this process, I could only stare straight ahead and use hand motions (thumbs up) to communicate. That’s because there was someone standing six inches away holding a mask to my face while someone else’s hands fiddled with the treadmill settings. I could not see anything below the bridge of my own nose. It was disorienting and worrying. I realized at one point that the reason they’d had me sign a waiver wasn’t that they were worried I’d drop dead of a heart attack — it was that I’d pitch backward off the treadmill and crack my skull on the belt. Tremendous concentration was required to stay upright and relaxed.

At 11:30 I was struggling. The incline was up to 4%, at 8mph about the equivalent of 6:45 (although who knows how fast the treadmill was actually going). At 12:10, with my heart rate at 202, I was gasping and we stopped the test. It was close enough to max, which I have clocked at 208 at the end of an “I’m about to puke” 5K race.

My VO2 max is 45.5 at the moment, a little lower than when I’ve been at my fittest (it’s more like 47 then). That was good to see, because it tells me that the months of mind-numbingly tedious cross-training were worthwhile and even the little bit of faster running I’ve been doing lately has helped.

The guys who did the test were really nice, and we chatted for quite awhile afterward. They don’t do many of them (which is why they did mine for free — to practice). They only work with about five runners, and I got the distinct impression that I’m the oldest one. So I sort of felt like someone’s science project. They offered to let me come back to do the test on the bike to compare the results (and, now I realize, so they could practice some more), for free. I may take them up on it.

In other news, I am registered for Sunday’s Gridiron 4 Miler in Central Park. I picked up my bib and for a moment thought, with a frisson of delight, that it was number 666. The last digit was obscured by the attached D-Tag. I am, in fact, number 661. If just five people had registered before me I could have run as The Antichrist.

The bib is blue. At least my pre-injury speedster paces have not expired as far as corral assignment goes. I was on the fence about doing this race, but getting a blue bib (it’s the color of the first corral, for those of you not in the NYRR know) makes me feel obligated in a some weird way.

I have no time goal for the race. I just want to race as best I can. It’s been six months. I miss racing. My biggest worry is that my problematic adductor will rebel, as it’s wont to do lately if I try to run too fast. I have promised myself that if it really starts to hurt then I will drop.

Training: Jan 16-22

47.2 miles? How'd that happen?

Training these days feels like 12 Steps: 1 day at a time. But at least I don’t have to go back and apologize to a bunch of people. Or turn myself over to a higher power. Or stop drinking. Okay, it’s nothing like 12 Steps.

Maybe it’s more like finally escaping after being trapped in a plastic pod for six months.

I ran every day this week because I had a plan. Some of the runs were difficult. Others, just tedious. But, damn it, I did them. And ended up running 7 miles more than planned.

Last Sunday’s foray into Central Park showed some progress (although not enough to confidently commit to a long race anytime soon). Wednesday’s scary tempo run provided lessons in learning lessons. I did some pool running, primarily so I don’t forget how, but also to get some more “miles” in with 15 minutes of faster “running.”

Yesterday’s weather was like some kind of cruel joke. But it was predicted to be even worse today (and it was). So I dragged myself into the city yesterday afternoon, moving my Sunday long run to Saturday. I felt recovered enough, although I ran somewhat crappily anyway, probably because I was tired from the “high mileage” week and also because I always run about 15-20% slower when my hormones are skyrocketing.

God, I hate the city in January. Piles of filthy snow and black ice everywhere, a wind that feels as if someone who doesn’t like you very much is vigorously sandpapering your face, toes that burn for an hour before losing all feeling entirely. I came in over the Madison Avenue Bridge (because I’m trying to save money on tolls) and circled round and round Harlem before finally finding a snow-encrusted space on 118th St. I got out, walked three blocks, then realized I’d forgotten my MP3 player. When I got back to the car, it was touch and go for a moment. It was so tempting to get back in, turn on the heater, and drive home. As my masonry specialist would say, I was quickly developing “a case of the fuck-its.”

That would be me on the left.

But I’d driven in, finally found a space, and I really had to pee. So I made my way through the moonscape into the park, availed myself of some sub-freezing relief and got to work. The runners were sparser than usual yesterday, although that may have been because so many of my usual companions had already run 13.1 miles there in the morning (in 14F base temperature) in the Manhattan Half. Their discarded Gu packets were everywhere.

No fast miles for me yesterday. A few were just under 8:00, but most were plodding at between 8:30 and 9:00. I swung clockwise around the park, then reversed direction at the 5 mile mark. I was slightly underdressed, which is preferable to being overdressed. But I was exhausted later on, probably due to having to expend so much energy to keep myself from dying of exposure. Ten miles was, I suspect, a tad too far after the week, but I felt compelled to hit that number.

The problem adductor was whining a little, but so was her sister. I don’t think either of them like the cold very much. I came home and took an hour-long hot bath and was still cold. That’s how cold it was.

I took today off.

Next week I have around 37 miles scheduled. Let’s see if I overachieve again.

I’ve registered for the Gridiron 4 Miler in two weeks. I have no expectations. I just want to run in a race again.

Patience. Endurance. And more patience.

It’s been surprisingly difficult to get back into a regular running routine, considering how much I missed running from August through October. I had a rough goal of achieving 40 mpw over the past few weeks. But then I found myself skipping planned runs. Or, rather, I had no plans. So not running was easy to do on many days.

Coach Sandra is still traveling and that’s fine. I told her a few weeks back that I was dropping plans for a spring marathon and that I just needed to get injury-free before I could think about making any significant training or racing plans. Building mileage and getting rid of my remaining adductor problems have been the only goals on the horizon.

Still, one needs a plan. In my case, a specific one. “Run 40 mpw” isn’t enough structure for me. So I’ve mapped out runs for the next five weeks. Two of those weeks consist of the “pre-race” schedule Sandra had put into my original plan over the summer. The others include one tempo or fartlek session midweek and a long run on Sunday. Mileage is 35-45 mpw. I have one doubles day. This at least resembles real training, and it’s reasonable to think I can stick to it. I’m giving myself a day off from running about every 7-10 days.

I have races penciled in, despite my better judgment. First, the NYRR Gridiron 4 Miler in early February. That’s completely dependent on how the tempo/fartlek efforts go. If I still have adductor pain, forget it. But if not, I’ll probably go for it. Then, in very soft, highly erasable pencil, the Cherry Tree 10 Miler a couple of weeks later.

That one is probably not practical, based on my run today. I did 11.2 miles in Central Park, although I’d planned to do 12. I ran a bit faster than the previous run two weeks ago (and it was very windy today), and four of them were well under 8:00 at a not ridiculous effort. But I don’t have real endurance yet. I was cooked at 10 miles and made my way out of the park via a shortcut.  I’ll try for 12 next Sunday, down from my original planned 14.

It drives me crazy not to have something to work toward. So I’m going to loosely train for the NYRR Colon Cancer Challenge 15K. That’s 10 weeks away. My best time in that race is 1:07:18 in 2009, and that was doing it as a tempo effort training run with 6 miles tacked onto either side of it. Incidentally, I have no fucking clue how I was doing runs like that two years ago. It seems impossible now.

Running a decent 15K would give me opportunity train for endurance and speed, which training for these 4 milers won’t give me. But I figure I can punt if I’m still struggling with longer distances and just do the Colon Cancer 4 miler instead as a measuring stick against whatever I do next month.

I’m not ready to jump into marathon training yet, physically or otherwise. I need to feel like I can run 50 mpw consistently without getting reinjured. But, looking a bit farther ahead this season, I’m thinking a run at the half distance in Long Island in May (and hoping we don’t have another freak heat wave) is not a terrible idea.

In totally unrelated news, we had a good New York Running Show episode this evening, in which we (Joe, Amy, Brenn and I) covered all things related to training in Central Park (and some racing tips), as well as a discussion of whether men should wear shorts over their tights. We had 83 downloads of the show last week. That’s up from around 50 a few weeks ago. Explosive growth!

Back on track

After taking four full days off from running, not because there was anything wrong but because I was so frigging busy with window/masonry guys and then giving or throwing away about 75% of our possessions, I ran today. At the gym. This was a first. Jonathan had his inaugural post-foot procedure elliptical session. He has not done a spot of exercise since right before Christmas. For JS followers, he reports that his foot is stiff and a little painful, but not around the treatment area. I think it’s just not used to doing anything, even walking, let alone running, but I’m not a medical expert, much as I enjoy pretending to be.

He hates going to the gym even more than I do (although that monthly membership fee on our MasterCard is a great motivator), so I will go with him while he’s in his non-running phase of coming back. We’ll also have to go up there at least a few days a week anyway for cross-training even after he’s running again, but never mind about that.

I somehow managed to pick the crappiest treadmill in the place. It was noisy (bang! bang! bang!), something I discovered happens only when that particular machine goes faster than 9:00 pace. By that time I was a mile in, so I jammed the headphones in deeper, cranked up the volume, and vowed to avoid this machine next time. It also resets to 0.0 MPH every time you pause, then takes forever to get back up to speed. After awhile, I didn’t bother stopping for water, preferring dehydration to frustration.

The quote is from past Boston Marathon race director Jock Semple, of Kathrine Switzer shoving fame.

After several days off from running, and only 22 miles last week, you can bet my legs were fresh. I am scheduled for my metabolic testing on Wednesday (although that’s now in extreme doubt given that we’re scheduled to have another blizzard; learning how piss poor I am at burning calories is not worth risking life and limb for), and as such I am not supposed to do any hard exercise the day before in order to have as low a resting heart rate as possible. So today was the day to try something harder if I was going to.

Since I was feeling so perky I decided to do a progression run today. I started out at 9:15 and steadily worked my way down 20 seconds or so per mile to 7:15 for the last one; 7.5 miles total. I was tempted to go to 7:00 pace, but I still have slight adductor pain, and I’ve learned enough horrible lessons about pushing things already. The good news is that there was considerably less pain than a week ago at the same pace in Central Park. Meaning almost none. I call that progress.

I am avoiding the heart rate monitor completely, perhaps permanently save for marathon pace training (and marathon racing). The rest of the time, it’s such a mind fuck. I’m just running at what’s a comfortable (or comfortably hard) pace for the time being. I’ll try to work down to 7:00. Then do some faster intervals when my adductor tells me it’s okay to do so. What I am going to be ready for very soon is some tempo running. I’m looking forward to that.

Tomorrow’s a little recovery run and back to doing some upper body weights. I have a feeling I’ll be running at home on Wednesday afternoon given the Snowpocalypse II forecast. Fortunately, I now have my treadmill room back. The guest bed’s been disassembled and the sound system’s hooked up to the TV so I can hear it over the din. All I need is a Grete Waitz poster.

2011: So far, so good

I ran 7.5 miles on the treadmill this morning and it was no big deal. This is major. I remember how running used to feel now. Or, at least, how it should not feel: namely, like a burdensome experience in which every step feels hard and every mile feels like three miles.

I haven’t bothered to post training, and I don’t dare tally up my miles for 2010. I’m sure it’s about half what I ran in both 2008 and 2009. Maybe that’s a good thing. But I’ll start tracking things soon.

Over the past few weeks I’ve run between around 25 and 35 miles a week. This week I’m trying for 40. On Sunday I had the first good run since August, an 11 miler in Central Park at around 8:20 pace. Considering that I’ve been plodding along at 9:20-9:50 on a flat treadmill, running that pace over hills is huge. I was in a great mood after that run. Weather permitting, I’ll probably go for a 12-14 miler in the park again on Sunday.

The stress fracture is totally healed up. The adductor pain is so subtle that I don’t even feel it much of the time when I’m running. It comes and goes, but mostly goes. I ran the last mile on Sunday in 7:15. I could feel it then, but it wasn’t bad. I will continue to test it with bits of faster running on Sundays.

In other news, I had my three week progress check-in with The Nutritionist. She is baffled by the fact that between being ill with a cold (and barely eating anything), then running just about every day (and eating what she has told me to eat, and when), that I’ve lost a grand total of .5 lbs. I reminded her of what I said when we met last month: “I told you I’m a hard case.” She assures me we’ll crack this case.

As part of the detective work, next week I visit an endocrinologist and also go for a VO2 max test. I would have gone for the VO2 max test earlier but I was sick with a head-and-then-chest cold for two weeks, and it seemed stupid to do anything that relied on good breathing, and then Christmas was upon us. So I called today to make the appointment. It was a funny conversation, with the person on the phone telling me what to expect, in a tone that was somewhat ominous: “It’s going to be a very hard workout.” She paused and then said, “Wait a minute. You’re a marathoner?” I said, “Yes.” She laughed, “Oh, good!” I guess she knows I like to suffer. 20 minutes pedaling hard on a bike? Pfft. Bring it on, lady. I’ve done Joan Benoit’s bike workout and that takes 1:20.

It’s a new year. I have lots of resolutions and goals, as usual. This year, however, they have a gravity to them that they have not in the past. I’m on a self-improvement tear. I have a long list of things to accomplish. I am not going to slack off or give up.

We started off the year with a massive clean out of our office. I’d spent about three days last month cleaning up the piles of paper surrounding my desk. Jonathan was infected by this bug and we just spent two days cleaning up the rest of the office. We’re recycling no less than four computers (and lots of peripherals). We threw out or recycled about eight large garbage bags’ worth of crap. It will not be our last trip to the Yonkers dump. Next up: the guest room closets.

Jonathan has been more attached to the things we own than I have traditionally. I would describe myself as ruthlessly unsentimental. I have no idea what’s changed in him — maybe it was my insisting that we get rid of the pool table (and actually disposing of it less than 24 hours later) and replace it with dining room furniture so we could live like civilized people. Now we have interesting conversations over dinner. We can have people over to eat. These are no small matters.

More shit is going out the door this year. The Bowflex. The rugs we don’t like. All of the semi-disposable IKEA furniture (with a nod to Douglas Coupland) that we bought with the idea that it would be temporary, yet which has insidiously become permanent. The mountains of I don’t know what in our basement. All this detritus is oppressive, both physically and mentally. I want a house that’s positively Japanese when we’re done.

Hump day update

I’m on Day 10 of The Cold. This one’s a nasty strain. Oh, it’s nasty, people. It starts with an incredibly sore throat, blocked sinuses and feeling run down. That goes on for about six days. Random bouts of upset stomach are thrown in just to keep things interesting. Then you get a few hours of total fakeout, where you think you’re getting better. That happened on Saturday afternoon and evening. And then, overnight, the cold migrates to your chest, turning into a bad cough and overall wheeziness and heaviness. The rundown feeling is replaced with an “I drank too much and then someone hit me in the head with a sledge hammer” sensation. In the meantime, your sneezes are in Technicolor.

I’ve managed to go running exactly twice during this time. The first run was on Saturday, when I thought I was getting better. That was a six miler at 9:30 pace, windy, with some stopping and walking. I tried again on Monday, another try at six miles. I forgot my watch, which is probably just as well.

I visited my doctor yesterday to confirm that I don’t have something bad brewing (like pneumonia). In the process I got an Rx for a hydrocodone-based cough syrup. I was warned that it’s habit forming and that I am not to take more than the recommended dose (1 teaspoon twice a day — it’s like the nitroglycerin of cough syrups), and then “wean myself off it it.” That won’t be hard. A half an hour after taking a teaspoon I am an idiot. Five minutes after that I’m out cold for three hours.

I am feeling better, finally, now, although I don’t trust it. But I’d better feel better by tomorrow because it’s going to be a big day! Jonathan goes in for something called “platelet rich plasma” therapy (otherwise known as “PRP”). His foot, in which he tore the fascia clean in half back in August, is not getting better, so this course of treatment was recommended. What they do is take some of his blood, extract the platelets, whirl them around for a bit and then reinject the substance back into his foot. He won’t be put under (or down, fortunately), but will be anesthetized into a state of “conscious sedation.” This means that he won’t be out cold, but he also won’t remember anything that happened. Kind of like when I take Ambien with a beer.

This has to be done in a facility rather than in Ortho 1′s office. I don’t know if it’s an actual hospital, but there are pieces of hospitalish equipment required, along with the services of an anesthesiologist. We’re bringing in our own boot and crutches, since this procedure is going to cost a significant amount and we may as well economize where we can. I was tempted to get an additional boot from the facility because a pair of them would help complete a really good Frankenstein costume.

He’ll be recovering for a few days. Then I think he can start running early next week and see if that fixes the problem. Edited: No, he can start non-impact cross-training in three days, then elliptical in 10. No running for a month — this was news.

The start of my cold coincided with my visit to The Nutritionist. I’ve been following her instructions, although, having done next to no exercise, I’m not expect a whole lot to happen. At least it’s been easy to stick to as I’ve had no appetite. Quitting drinking cold turkey was easy too, since I have no desire to drink when I’m sick.

Tomorrow I’ll also try to pick up my bib and chip for Sunday’s Ted Corbitt 15K, since we’ll be in the vicinity of NYRR’s offices. I had hoped to get up to at least a 10 mile run prior to this race, but this cold has thrown everything off. The longest run I’ve done since I started back roughly a month ago was eight miles. Unless I’m still ill or the weather is really bad, I’ll run it. Racing it seems a folly given the last four months of running crapitude.

What I may do is just spend the first few miles testing out my adductor on the hills. If it’s okay, I may try to “race” for a few miles just to see what speed I can get up to (and gather some heart rate data). Then either drop out or jog the rest. Yes, the stupid adductor still hurts. I did some reading up on osteitis pubis and see that for some people it can take 7-12 months to go away completely.

2011 has to be better for both of us. It just has to be.

There were some bright spots this week:

My blood pressure at the doctor’s was 112/70; resting pulse was 52 — so I have not lost fitness.

I am finally resuming work on Houston Hopefuls this weekend, with my first interview in two months. A third will follow in January. I’ve got two new Hopefuls joining up too.

I just got another assignment from Running Times, an article for their site, not print (“Web Exclusives”), about winter cross-training alternatives. That was as a direct result of the latest Khannouchi-based opus, even though it was rejected. I’m sure the print work also helped establish me as someone who isn’t a total flake. I also got a new lead on some corporate writing work for the new year to add to the irons I already have going there, from a “potential client” that I’d all but written off. I am feeling fairly confident that we won’t starve, at least not in the first quarter.

The resurfacing of our front walk is almost done and it’s looking really good. Our mason is a perfectionist. That was a nice surprise. But his guys had to stop working because of the sudden cold snap. Work resumes on Friday, probably. No word on when the new windows are going in.

Friday is our 20 year anniversary (of sorts; we’re not married, at least not that I know of). We, uh, “officially became a couple” 20 years ago. We’ll probably celebrate with some cough mixture and gimp boot dancing.

NY Running: The Club Scene

Last night Joe, Frank, Amy, Steve and I yacked for well over an hour (1:23:18, to be exact) on the NY Running Podcast. We chatted mostly about clubdom — what are clubs all about? What’s in it for you? And why won’t NYRR recognize the Inwood Hill Runners as a club? Steve also plugged a few upcoming races. This episode should get you through a 10 mile run if you’re running an 8:20 pace.

Listen to or download the show at Talk Shoe. Learn more about the NY Running Podcast.

Impossible. Possible.

The Joe Kleinerman 10K is closed. I wouldn’t be able to run it anyway. Still, damn, even the winter NYRR races fill up quickly now.

The next possibility for me is the Ted Corbitt 15K. This used to be call the Hot Chocolate 15K, but I like that they reclaimed this one to honor the father of ultrarunning.

I am in no shape to race, but I need to run like a normal runner again soon. I am running 2-3 times a week around a soccer/baseball field right now. It takes about 2 minutes to circle it. Running for 30 minutes, well, do the math. I’ll run Tuesday and Friday of this week, then move to every other day starting next. Provided I have no lingering pain or other obvious problems, I want to be back running every day by around December 12th.

I just want to throw on some tights and run around the park on December 19th. No racing because, frankly, I’m afraid of recracking my pelvis or reinflaming my adductor tendon with 9.3 fast miles on hilly pavement. But an easy run around the park, with people, not caring about pace but just running because I can — I would like that very much. This is truly all I want for Christmas.

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