Fear the bike. Respect the bike.

Coach Sandra sent me a series of stationary bike workouts about a month ago that she says she got from Joan Benoit-Samuelson. Joanie used these back in the 1980s when she was just starting to establish her status as Patron Saint of Injured Marathoners. Now I’m trying to schedule an interview with Ms. Samuelson so I can 1) talk to her about how she trains today by comparison to back then and 2) actually share these workouts if she’ll give the okay.

I was given a free issue of Running Woman — or Women’s Running(?) — magazine. I can’t remember the name, but it was bland and featured an equally bland, heavily photo-retouched non-runner model on the cover with huge tits and it’s downstairs and I am upstairs and don’t feel like walking downstairs for reasons I’m getting to. In that issue was an article by Joanie about tempo runs. In it, she states exactly how to do the various runs. So I’m hoping she won’t have a problem with sharing these workouts with the world.

So, back to those workouts (and the reason I don’t want to go downstairs again today). I received three workouts. Two of them are what I could call reasonable. I was not worried about them, having done similar stuff on my own already. But the third one I was actually afraid to try. It takes about 96 minutes, 40 of which consist of the warm-up and cool-down. I’ll leave it at that.

I did the workout yesterday. The spin bikes at the gym only allow you to “program” an hour. So I had to do two 50 minute sessions, ending the second one 4 minutes early. A guy got on the bike next to me when I was 35 minutes into my first session, then looked mildly alarmed when I finished that one and sweatily punched in another 50 minutes. I could hear his thoughts: “Head case.” He left long before I was done. He probably thinks I’m still there.

It was hard, but not as bad as I thought it would be. At least not until today, 24 hours later. I did lower body weight work for an hour this morning. That was hard, but okay. Then I got into the pool to do a 45 minute session (this is now considered a short session for me, but we had a meeting with a client later on so I had to keep things brief). My plan was to do 15 minutes of half-pool length intervals (you “run” all out for about 30 seconds, then rest on the turns for about 10-15 seconds). I warmed up for 15 minutes and launched into my first interval. My legs were dead. I have started doing pool runs after weight work, so I don’t expect them to be peppy. But this was different. I could not do anything hard. I gave up and just ran easy for another 10 minutes and wrote off the workout.

That was one sneaky bike workout. It took 24 hours to show just what a pummeling it packed.

I will try again in the pool tomorrow morning. But I would not be surprised if I have trouble. My legs are still fatigued now, 36 hours later. I run again tomorrow afternoon, on grass, for 30 minutes. I’m sure I can manage that. I think.

In other news, Joe Garland is making a noble effort to revive the Ekiden in New York (his older post about that is here; old dreams die hard, it seems). I am trying to help, since for all my bitching about the More Marathon, I still love the idea of people racing multiple loops in the park. Just not 9,000 people. I think 150 or so is a good number.

I am also attempting to plan some good shows for the Runners Round Table podcast in the new year. My first planned show is a January 5 hour on eating disorders and exercise addiction. I’m no expert, but the people I’ve invited on are. I have other ideas for shows, but I want to see how they pan out in terms of getting good guests before I blather about them here.

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.

The slacker marathon

Here’s a brand new race: The Thanksgiving Marathon. It’s a trail run in Van Cortlandt Park on Thanksgiving morning. You can run a 10K, a half marathon, a marathon, a marathon relay. Or whatever. No one cares. No one’s timing you. You will have no bib. There are no winners. There are no awards. The course is marked with flour. It’s totally free.

If you finish, you’ll get a commemorative fork to use later in the day.

How fucking awesome it this? It’s pretty fucking awesome.

Please run this race so they do it again next year. Because I really want to run it next year.

It's forking awesome.

In other areas of New York racing, we had a lively discussion this evening on the NY Running Podcast. Among other topics, Steve of NYCRuns told us about a boutique marathon in Brooklyn that he’s helping to organize. We pondered the pros and cons of a second New York Marathon in the spring. Many of us plugged the amazing (and less crowded, and often cheaper) racing scene available outside of Manhattan, in Rockland, Northern Westchester, New Jersey, Long Island and Connectiticut. And Joe of RunWestchester proposed a club-based Ekiden in Central Park. This last idea is something I could get behind. Who’s in?

This podcast is for you, New York area runners. We’re aiming to make it a weekly thing (although we’re taking next week off for the holiday). Help us make it interesting and relevant by lending your ideas and voices.


NY Running on TalkShoe

The New York Running Podcast Page

Discussion thread for upcoming NY Running podcast topics on NYCRuns

A year ago…

A blogger I follow had a short post up last night that was a look back through key times in her running life. Unfortunately, the post has disappeared. Maybe I’m not the only one who “Ambien posts.”

I like the idea, though. So here’s my walk backward along my blog’s November garden stones:

A year ago, I was injured with a tendon problem on my foot. This was three weeks before the California International Marathon. That would turn out to be a dreadful race, one that made me rethink everything.

Two years ago,  I hired my first coach. I was still on a post-race high from running 3:19 at Steamtown. I also had a cold.

Three years ago, I won my first age group award. This race was the culmination of many months of base training as I prepared to do my first proper marathon training cycle for a spring 2008 race (the More Marathon, in which I would easily qualify for Boston).

Four year ago, I was racing lots of local Turkey Trots. My race pace for a flat 5 miler was about 8:00. This blog was about six months old at that time. I was still fat and slow. But I was determined to improve. Four years on, I still am.

Random bloviations

Here’s my version of a Larry King column. Heavy on personal pronouns, inanity and randomness.

I use my Exogen 4000 bone stimulator daily. Sometimes twice a day. Is it working? I have no idea. Did you know these expensive devices only have about 170 uses? Then their internal battery goes dead. The maker claims you can’t replace or recharge the battery. Yeah. Right. Another four thousand dollars, please. I know we’re a capitalist country. But, honestly, we do take it too far sometimes.

I am also taking a product called Bone Up, a calcium supplement that’s full of Australian bovine something or other. It’s in the kitchen and I’m too comfortable at the moment to get up and go look at the bottle. It was recommended to me by a woman who has had many stress fractures. She says it works. I believe her.

I actually like this season’s Dexter. I didn’t like the last season, which felt like the writers were treading water with the character. This time around Dexter gets a quasi-girlfriend who may also have serial killer leanings (at the very least she is a victim turned vigilante), causing him to get sloppy with his protocol. That’s a plot development that rocks. I would not have thought of that. Also, Peter Weller is great in his role as scummy, bottom feeding private investigator.

I am also enjoying The Walking Dead, our first-ever zombie television series. I just call it The Zombie Show. I am still on the premiere episode, because not only am I too tired or too busy (or too asleep) to watch television most evenings, but also because Jonathan is not a big fan of the zombie genre. It’s a little hackneyed, but the cinematography is notably good and I appreciate the acting performance by the semi-aware-but-nonetheless-completely-zombified wife of one of the characters. That’s an acting challenge. The makeup and special effects are excellent too.

So my evenings are full of enjoyable violence.

I did the first of my two planned Big Name Runner interviews over the weekend. I know the article I want to write and how I will write it. I am determined to get this finished this week, although as usual my “pays the bills” work takes precedence and is heating up lately.

The nice thing about having a blog is that even if I can’t interest any of the usual outlets in paying me for it, I can just publish it here and I’ll be almost as happy with that. I’ll be surprised if no one wants it, but stranger things have happened. In general, I have quickly learned that it’s difficult to impossible to make a living just doing freelance running journalism. The fact that I’m not trying to means I can do the work I do in this area on my own terms. I’m still having fun with it.

I may get a chance to try out an Alter-G treadmill somewhere in Harlem soon. That should be interesting and educational.

I’m planning a trip to Switzerland at some point next year. It will probably be sometime later in the summer. We went there in 2007 and I’ve missed it ever since. The exchange rate is terrible, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Life is short. I want to go back to Zermatt, where a strained medialis prevented me from hiking up to the base of the Matterhorn. I also enjoyed Pontresina, the lower-key (and cheaper) sister town to St. Moritz. And, of course, the Jungfrau region, although I think this time we’ll stay on the Grindelwald/Wengen side, whereas last time we were in Murren.

Longer term, I’m figuring out where to go for my 50th birthday. Much as I would love to go somewhere weird and totally new to me, like Japan, or exotically third-world, like Indonesia, I think it’s going to be Norway. I guess I’m getting old, but I want a reliably civilized experience featuring a Western culture that I can somewhat relate to. There needs to be good beer and cheese involved too. I know it’s a few years off. But I like to plan.

Also, is it just me, or is anyone else annoyed by Haile’s petulant retirement announcement, followed by cooler headed reversal — which in the process eclipsed every other New York Marathon story? Everyone knew he didn’t mean it. Now. Do you remember who won the men’s and women’s races? You had to think about it for a moment, didn’t you?

Training: Oct 24-Nov 13

Well, it’s about time for another yellow post. I only post this stuff so that it’s easy for me to go back and look at what was happening. Plus I’m obsessive-compulsive and it bugs me when I have gaps in training posts.

I was a cross-training machine in mid-to-late October, but things dropped off in the last two weeks. These were two incredibly busy weeks for me with work commitments (I have two big freelance projects these days with many due “deliverables,” as we call them), the NYC marathon — and lots of time spent in in the medical realm.

Not just MRI facilities and podiatrists, but also an endodontist whom I didn’t like very much at all. But then, people in the dental professional have a hard time being liked in general. The fact that she made me wait an hour to see her, then spent 15 minutes during our consultation berating a vendor, did not help her industry.

Denis Leary: Dave, let me explain something to you, okay? People…hate you, you’re a dentist.

Campbell Scott: Is that right?

Denis Leary: They can’t wait to get out of your office, okay? They think about you, they think “pain.” They would like nothing more than to never have to see you again. And your best work never even sees the light of day.

Campbell Scott: Well, you’re going to lose every tooth in your mouth, my friend. You’ve got one of the worst cases of gum disease I’ve ever seen.

The Secret Lives of Dentists

But the less said about my ongoing dental drama, the better. Except this: my problem is not due to neglect, if you must know. If it’s even a problem, that is; it could be total tooth apocalypse or just a mysterious shadow on the x-ray (I’m hoping it’s the latter when I go back in to find out). But whatever’s going on traces back to a bike accident I had in 1989.

Just to put this in perspective, here are some things that also happened in 1989:

  • Mikhael Gorbachev was named president of the Soviet Union
  • The Berlin Wall came down
  • We invaded Panama to capture Manuel Noriega
  • “Roseanne” and “The Cosby Show” were the top shows
  • “Wind Beneath My Wings” was Record of the Year
  • …and everyone had fluffy, fluffy hair and big shoulder pads!

I already had a root canal 10 years ago because of that accident (in addition to the three I had at the time to reconstruct three of my teeth). I did not have dental insurance then. I do not have dental insurance now. I will never have dental insurance. There is a very good reason for why I do not ride bikes except ones that are indoors and stay in place.

A state of the art cell phone. In 1989.

Basically, I am sick of sitting in traffic or hauling around on the train/subway, waiting around in horrible waiting rooms, having unpleasant things done to me, and then writing large checks for the privilege. So I’m taking a break from it for a few weeks.

The endodontist can wait until after Thanksgiving (a day I will probably be working — and the gym is open that day for losers like me!) as I’m doubtful my teeth will crumble or fall out in that time.

I am taking a wait-and-see approach to doing anything further on the osteitis pubis front. I know what I have, which is inflammation. Now I need to see how it responds to the return to running over the next week or two. If running obviously aggravates it, or it simply isn’t getting better, then I’ll take action. If it continues to improve, even slowly, I’ll let it ride.

The big change in cross-training is that I have returned to weight-bearing lower body work, but cautiously. I am careful with the leg press machine in particular. And walking lunges pissed off my right hamstring yesterday, so those are out for awhile. But I must do standing squats and deadlifts to strengthen the muscles that support my, er, pelvic region. And I’m back to rolling and stretching, since I can already feel my IT band and other muscles knotting up again.

I did another grassy field run today, half an hour this time. That did irritate my poor tendon (and brought back a very faint pain in the gluteus). Not exactly encouraging. But it’s early days yet. I probably won’t try a run again until Wednesday. The good news is that it was not as spiritiually demoralizing as Friday’s run. I truly think that second run back after a long layoff is the worst one.

So there’s the recap. In summary, I didn’t do as much training as I would have liked and I’m finding doctors to be tiresome.

Ran today. Hated it.

Today was my second attempt at running since the last attempt, which was roughly two weeks ago. That last run’s discomfort was largely obscured by the oh my god I’m actually running novelty. It’s been over three months since I’ve run, after all. But I knew based on that experience that today’s run wouldn’t be a good run. I figured it would be mediocre. I didn’t expect to actually hate the experience.

I understand now why most people who take up recreational running don’t get beyond January 7th. Being a new runner sucks. That’s essentially what I am now: a new runner. I can imagine someone thinking, “People do this for fun? They find it gives them pleasure? But how?”

I know that my aerobic system is in great shape, but when it comes to running I’m like a jet engine attached to a Radio Flyer. My body is not used to running and everything else I’ve been doing does not translate, at least at this point in time. I feel like I weigh a thousand pounds and it’s like running on stilts. (Plus my legs, which have been permanently browned since 2007, have gone all Johnny Winter on me in just three months of sunless existence. Thank goodness tights season is on the way.)

I ran around a baseball field again. Nice, soft grass. Jonathan and I went together and he was eager to run with me, despite my foul mood. I’m shocked he hasn’t left me, since I complain basically all the time. He told me his second run back (I think he’s on his fourth or fifth) was the worst one. It will get better. Jeez, I hope so.

I had to remind myself that I’d already done two hours of hard exercise just a few hours before, on top of hard work in the pool yesterday, on top of whaling on my legs with 90 minutes of weight work on Tuesday.

I managed 25 minutes. I’ll try 30 next time. Probably on Sunday or Monday.

We did see a man who appeared to be drunk chasing some Canadian geese around at the edge of the field. That was funny.